New Hampshire’s rules on PFAS in drinking water on hold as parties ponder costs, impacts

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PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are man-made chemicals found in many industrial products, as well as household items like nonstick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises that exposure over certain levels may cause adverse health effects.

By Sarah Downey | The Center Square

A recent ruling that stops the state from imposing new rules on PFAS chemicals has the support of New Hampshire’s leading business advocate, but the legal case is far from resolved.

Superior Court Justice Richard McNamara issued a ruling last week that granted an injunction sought by PFAS manufacturer 3M and three local plaintiffs, who want to prevent the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) from applying new regulations on PFAS levels in drinking water.

However, the judge’s order is only set to take effect Dec. 31, which will give both parties an opportunity for “immediate review of this decision in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.”

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are man-made chemicals found in many industrial products, as well as household items like nonstick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises that exposure over certain levels may cause adverse health effects.

In issuing his decision, McNamara wrote, “[T]he legal issues raised by Plaintiffs’ challenge are complex, the importance of public health is paramount and the expense imposed by the proposed rule is significant.”

Jim Roche, president of the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association (BIA), agreed with the judge’s decision and said the state had not provided enough research on contaminant levels.

“BIA believes the court has taken a prudent step by enjoining implementation of the state’s new Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFAS chemicals,” Roche said in a statement.

“A thorough cost-benefit analysis will give the public confidence that any new, lower MCLs are based on science, not politics or emotions. The court was right to order DES to provide a reasoned determination on costs and benefits of lower MCLs, including a quantification of the level of harm from PFAS at different levels of exposure,” Roche added.

Kate Spiner, communications director for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, told The Center Square in an email that the state filed a motion for reconsideration following the judge’s order, but that she could not comment further on the pending litigation.

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