Kudos to the 23 attorneys general of states who signed a joint letter urging the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to support states in addressing a public health threat of toxic “forever chemicals.” Wisconsin and Michigan are among the states pressing for action.

We suspect that Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is a leader in the coalition seeking immediate attention to the growing problem. The city of Marinette and the town of Peshtigo are in the mix of the fight to try and find out what is happening to their water systems.

“Drinking water contamination can result in serious public health problems. Congress should take swift action to protect the safety of our water, including by designating PFAS (per-and-poly-fluoroalkyl substances) as a hazardous substance,” said Kaul in announcing the joint letter signed by state attorneys general several days ago.

In the letter dispatched to Congressional leadership, the coalition calls for action to help states address and prevent the dangers of a family of chemicals known as PFAS, a group of super-resilient, manmade chemicals contaminating drinking water and other media throughout the nation. Additionally, the attorneys general asked Congress to provide financial assistance to help state and local governments offset the high-cost burden of cleaning up drinking water supplies.

PFAS chemicals, according to Kaul, resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the body. Those contaminants, he added, can be linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals. Human health effects associated with exposure to PFAS may include kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage and other health issues.

Nationwide, PFAS is most often associated with firefighting training centers, military bases, civilian airports and industrial facilities. PFAS chemicals tend to be persistent in the environment and have been used for decades as ingredients in firefighting foam.

Joining Kahl in the letter are the attorneys general of Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Mississippi, Oregon, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia, Hawaii, Guam, Maine, Washington, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and California.

We suspect the health issue will become a hot-button issue, especially in a hotly contested presidential election in 2020. Politics aside, we think Congress should take immediate action to investigate this very serious matter and to provide financial aid to the states snagged in the crisis. We do not need a reminder of the bitter, devastating and costly mess that occurred in Flint, Michigan, just a few years ago when water supplies were overwhelmed with toxic water. A few heads in government agencies rolled in the process because they failed to recognize the problem soon enough or to take action fast enough. It cost tens of millions of dollars to fix the problem and the costs keep pouring in.

We strongly urge our representatives in Congress — Wisconsin and Michigan — to be aggressive in leading the pack in this fight. We foresee multi-millions of dollars from the public and private sectors invested before the affected parties will feel safe about their drinking water.