Shaheen Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Assist Veterans & Service Members Exposed to PFAS Contaminants
**Shaheen’s Bipartisan PFAS Registry Act follows her establishment of the first-ever nationwide PFAS water contamination study.**
(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the PFAS Registry Act with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), legislation that would create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems possibly due to contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS chemicals, like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), have emerged as a widespread contaminant to the drinking water sources of military bases across the country due to their use in firefighting foam used by the Armed Services. This bipartisan bill would allow military personnel and veterans to receive updates on recent scientific developments on the effects of PFAS exposure, availability of possible treatment options, and information on what resources may be available to address their health concerns. Shaheen has led efforts in Congress that seek to uncover the health impact of emerging contaminants in water supplies. Just last month, Shaheen secured the necessary funding for her nationwide PFAS health impact study to move forward.
“This bipartisan bill will build on the progress made in Congress to prioritize a response to emerging contaminants in drinking water supplies in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Shaheen. “Congress has an important role to play to ensure that Americans have safe drinking water. Too many people, particularly service members and veterans who are in environments that have higher exposure to these chemicals, have been left wondering about the potential health impact of PFAS-contaminated water. That’s unacceptable. Our residents deserve answers and assistance, and this bill will help provide just that.”
Senator Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, established the first-ever nationwide health impact study of PFAS chemicals in drinking water in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. And as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen secured the necessary funding for the study in the government funding bill that was signed into law last month. Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to respond to the pervasive problem of emerging contaminants in water supplies across the country, including New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen has fought for Pease International Tradeport to be included in the nationwide health impact study. Senator Shaheen has also introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation that will help expedite the analysis of contaminants and provide resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials.
The Pease International Tradeport formerly served as an Air Force base and experienced considerable ground and drinking water contamination from PFAS chemicals. In May 2014, the city of Portsmouth closed the Haven well at Pease after the Air Force found levels of PFAS chemicals at 12.5 times higher than what was then the provisional health advisory from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Moreover, state health officials have determined that more than 1,500 people, including children who attended day care centers near the site, have elevated levels of PFAS in their blood from drinking contaminated groundwater near Pease.
Andrea Amico of Portsmouth founded Testing for Pease, a community group advocating on behalf of the families in Portsmouth who have been affected by the water contamination. "The PFAS Registry Act is a necessary piece of legislation needed to help track and educate servicemen and women about their PFAS exposure at military bases,” said Amico. “We are just scraping the tip of the iceberg in identifying the widespread contamination and long-term health impacts of PFAS exposure from military bases across the nation. Servicemen and women will greatly benefit from a PFAS registry that can keep them informed on current updates related to this emerging and rapidly growing body of knowledge around PFAS. The community is grateful for Senator Shaheen's continued leadership and legislation re: PFAS to meet the needs of millions of Americans impacted by this widespread contamination affecting our entire nation."