Shaheen, Blumenthal Introduce Legislation to Reduce PFAS Exposure Among Service Members & Military Families

May 25, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced legislation today to reduce exposure of harmful PFAS chemicals to service members and their families. The PFAS Free Military Purchasing Act prohibits the Department of Defense from procuring, purchasing and selling items that contain per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dangerous and toxic chemicals commonly found in many everyday items like food service ware, carpets and rugs, clothing and cosmetics. PFAS exposure has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. 

“New Hampshire service members and veterans know all too well the alarming health implications tied to PFAS exposure. We know these harmful chemicals are not only in our water supplies, but also everyday items. It’s unacceptable that taxpayer dollars are being spent on household products that expose our military members and their families to these toxic chemicals,” said Shaheen. “It’s past time we require the Department of Defense to purchase safer, PFAS-free alternatives for our service members so they can use everyday products like cleaning supplies and food packaging without worrying about their personal health. I’m proud to join Senator Blumenthal in this effort to incentivize the Pentagon to protect our military families by banning the purchase of products with well-documented health risks.” 

“Service members risk everything to keep us safe. We should do everything we can to keep them safe as well,” said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s Vice President for Government Affairs. “We applaud Senator Blumenthal and Senator Shaheen for introducing legislation to phase PFAS out of everyday products procured or purchased by the DOD. There’s no reason toxic forever chemicals should be in the products our service members take into their homes.” 

The items covered by this bill would include non-stick cookware and food service ware for use in galleys or dining facilities, food packaging materials, furniture and floor waxes, carpeting, rugs, curtains, upholstered furniture, personal care items, dental floss, toothpaste, sunscreen, umbrellas, luggage and bags, ski wax, car wax and car window treatment, cleaning products, and shoes and clothing for which PFAS treatment is not currently necessary for an essential function. 

Senator Shaheen leads efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Shaheen has consistently secured and boosted federal funding for the PFAS health impact study that she worked to establish four years ago. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. The study at Pease is actively seeking participants. In February, Shaheen reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to provide rural communities under economic strain during the COVID-19 pandemic with $1 billion in emergency assistance to repair, modernize and renovate failing water infrastructure. She has also championed legislation, the PFAS Testing and Treatment Act that would provide substantial federal funding for PFAS remediation in drinking water, and groundwater, including private wells. In addition, Shaheen joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow state, tribal and local governments to use funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan to address contamination from PFAS, including in local water supplies. Last week, Shaheen asked leaders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the agency’s efforts to address exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals in New Hampshire during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. 

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