Shaheen Measure Banning PFAS Chemicals from Firefighting Foam Included in Committee-Approved Annual Defense Bill
**Shaheen, the Second Highest Ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Fought to Include a Number of Measures to Combat PFAS Exposure**
**Shaheen Successfully Secures Authorization for an Additional $10 Million to Support PFAS Health Impact Study She Established in FY18 Defense Bill**
**Defense Bill Also Includes Shaheen Legislation to Support Firefighters Impacted by Occupational Exposure to PFAS **
(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year. It will now be considered by the full Senate. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the second highest ranking Democrat on the committee, secured a number of significant New Hampshire and national defense priorities that deal with combating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure, including prohibition on the Department of Defense from procuring firefighting foam that contains PFAS after October 1, 2022. The defense bill also contains a number of other Shaheen-led provisions to address PFAS exposure. PFAS contamination has been a serious problem in several southern New Hampshire communities, and responding to this concern has been a top priority for Senator Shaheen.
“PFAS exposure has been linked to adverse health effects and contamination has required substantial remediation efforts in New Hampshire and across the country. The Department of Defense should be working proactively to eliminate its use in firefighting foam in order to prevent further harm,” said Shaheen. “Our service members and firefighters are occupationally more likely to come into contact with these chemicals, as are communities in the vicinity of military bases that use firefighting foam containing PFAS. Prevention needs to be part of our plan to combat PFAS exposure, which is why phasing out this type of firefighting foam is a necessary step forward.”
Shaheen worked with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also a member of the Armed Services Committee, as well as Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) on this provision.
Additionally, Shaheen successfully authorized $10 million to continue the PFAS health impact study she established in the FY2018 NDAA. Shaheen has repeatedly secured the necessary authorization and funding to implement the study, which is set to begin this summer. Also included in the defense bill is a critical piece of Shaheen’s legislation with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would confront occupational exposure to PFAS— the Protecting Military Firefighters from PFAS Act. The bipartisan bill would require the Department of Defense to include blood testing for PFAS as part of routine physicals for military firefighters. Shaheen and Murkowski previously called on federal health agencies to prioritize studies on the health effects of firefighters exposed to PFAS.
Because of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation’s efforts, Pease will serve as the model site for the nationwide PFAS health study. In response to recent news reports that the Department of Defense pressured the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to weaken cleanup standards for pollution caused by PFAS, Shaheen doubled-down on her previous request for the department and agency to disclose relevant correspondence regarding the groundwater pollution guidelines for PFAS chemicals. In March, Shaheen joined Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce the PFAS Action Act, which would mandate that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within one year of enactment declare PFAS a hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law, also known as CERCLA. And earlier this month, Shaheen worked with a bipartisan group of Senators led by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to reintroduce the PFAS Accountability Act, which would hold federal agencies accountable for addressing PFAS contamination at military bases.