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Shaheen and Hassan Push for Resources to Address Water Contamination near Military Bases

(Washington, DC)U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined several of their Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging funding for programs and safety efforts that address per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals that have contaminated drinking water sources in New Hampshire and across the nation.

"Residents of our states are concerned about exposure, and what this means for their health and safety," the senators wrote. "We urge your support for programs that address this unregulated and emerging water contaminant."

A by-product of firefighting foam used at military installations and civilian airports, PFAS have been detected in groundwater and drinking water wells near these entities. In New Hampshire, the city of Portsmouth closed the Haven well at the tradeport in May 2014 after the Air Force found levels of PFAS chemicals at 12.5 times higher than what was then the EPA’s provisional health advisory. While the health effects of these chemicals are still being determined, studies have linked PFAS exposure to developmental damage, certain cancers, and immune system dysfunction. 

In the letter, the senators urge the Committee to fully fund a study that Senator Shaheen successfully included in the Senate version of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on the cumulative health effects and impact of PFAS exposure in water sources. The letter also encourages the Committee to direct the Department of Defense and military services to robustly budget for assessment, investigation, and remediation activities. Finally, the letter requests investments to eliminate the current use of this generation of contaminants, which would reduce the cost of future remediation efforts, and to research firefighting alternatives that do not contain PFAS. 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.