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Shaheen, Blumenthal Statement on DOD Prohibition of certain PFAS-Containing Items

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), lead Senate sponsors of the PFAS Free Military Purchasing Act, issued the following statements following a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) that the agency will prohibit the procurement of certain items that contain perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOS and PFOA are members of a chemical group of 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 chemicals are a pernicious threat to the health of our service members and military families,” said Shaheen. “I am pleased that the Department has taken action to stop purchasing certain products that contain these hazards. I will continue to work to protect our service members and military families from unnecessary exposure to these chemicals.” 

“DOD’s new ban on purchasing certain items containing highly hazardous types of PFAS chemicals will help better protect the health of our armed forces. PFAS-free products are widely available and the DOD is helping lead the way in making the switch to healthier alternatives,” said Blumenthal. “Still, more action is necessary to eliminate all items containing these toxins from use to stop needlessly putting members of our military and their families at risk—and to spur the transition away from PFAS for all Americans. My and Senator Shaheen’s legislation would ban DOD from procuring any PFAS-containing items, and we will continue fighting for its passage for the sake of our service members.” 

Shaheen and Blumenthal have long fought to reduce exposure of service members and their families to harmful PFAS chemicals. In May 2021, the members led the introduction of the PFAS Free Military Purchasing Act to prohibit DOD procurement, purchasing, and selling of items that contain PFAS, including non-stick cookware and food service ware, food packaging materials, furniture, and more. 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. 

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. In the fiscal year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year, Senator Shaheen was successful in including numerous PFAS provisions, including the authorization of an additional $20 million to continue the PFAS health impact study that she created in the 2018 NDAA. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. In addition, Senator Shaheen added an amendment that would prohibit the DoD from purchasing PFAS laden firefighting turnout gear after Oct. 1, 2026. This follows Shaheen-led efforts to expand blood testing and treatment for firefighters exposed to PFAS and a similar amendment she secured to ban the use of PFAS-laden firefighting foam in the FY 2020 NDAA. Senator Shaheen also included an amendment to clarify in statute that the National Guard can access Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) funds for PFAS cleanup at state-owned Guard facilities, which will save the Guard millions in funds they have previously been forced to divert from training and operations. Finally, Senator Shaheen successfully led on enhanced transparency by ensuring the Department of the Air Force is sharing PFAS test results with impacted communities. Last month, Shaheen visited Pease International Tradeport – the former Air Force Base – with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Region 1, Dr. David Cash, to discuss the Biden administration’s progress toward recognizing two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS – as hazardous chemicals under the law.