Shaheen, Hassan Applaud Bipartisan Bill Protecting Fire Fighters from Exposure to PFAS Chemicals Signed into LawDecember 22, 2022
(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) applauded the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act being signed into law. The bill will help protect the health and safety of fire fighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure by directing federal agencies to develop best practices, training and educational programs to reduce, limit and prevent exposure to PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not naturally break down.
“I’ve long prioritized policies to remediate PFAS contamination in our communities and to phase out the use of these dangerous chemicals in our daily lives, which is of critical importance for workers who are often occupationally more likely to be exposed. This is the case for firefighters, whose exposure to firefighting foam and some personal protective gear containing PFAS, makes them particularly vulnerable. Our legislation is an important step forward to empower firefighters with the best practices, training and education they need from the Department of Homeland Security to stay safe on the job. I’m thrilled to see the President sign it into law,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’ll keep working to address the full scope of this issue to stop exposure, remediate contaminated sites and deliver the information and tools our community members need to stay healthy.”
“Our fire fighters work day in and day out to keep our towns and cities safe, and their service should not come with worries about PFAS exposure,” said Senator Hassan. “Our bipartisan bill will help reduce fire fighters’ exposure to PFAS and help protect the health and safety of these brave public servants. I look forward to seeing the results of this bill across our state and country, and I’ll keep working to support our first responders.”
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.
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