Skip to content

Shaheen, Padilla Introduce Bill to Limit Air Pollution from Toxic PFAS Chemicals

**New legislation adds certain PFAS chemicals to the list of Hazardous Air Pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act**

**Through her leadership in negotiations around the bipartisan infrastructure deal, Shaheen helped secure $10 billion to address PFAS contamination**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) yesterday introduced the Prevent Release of Toxics Emissions, Contamination, and Transfer Act, or the PROTECT Act. The legislation would add certain PFAS chemicals to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), thereby requiring their regulation under the Clean Air Act. This would expand the number of facilities that would have to adopt technology to reduce PFAS emissions. Senator Hassan also cosponsored the legislation.

“PFAS contamination is a pervasive problem that has long impacted communities across New Hampshire and throughout the nation, finding its way into our water supplies, soil, air and more. Combating the full scope of this issue demands an all-hands-on deck approach, which is precisely what the PROTECT Act would help us establish,” said Senator Shaheen. “For years I’ve prioritized policies that address remediation, prevention and research on the effects of PFAS, and I’m glad to join with Senator Padilla to expand efforts to keep our air clean and safe from PFAS pollution. Our legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency to list PFOA and PFOS – two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals – and their replacements as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, require standards for major sources of PFAS emissions and provide support for developing technologies for detection and control of air emissions polluted by PFAS. As our understanding of the full scale of PFAS exposure expands, so should our response, and I’ll continue to push forward legislative solutions that address this problem so Granite State families and Americans across the country have faith in the safety of the water, air and other natural surroundings in their communities.”

“PFAS – or ‘forever chemicals’ -- pose a serious threat to the health and safety of Granite State families, and we must do more to stop these toxic chemicals from harming our communities,” Senator Hassan said. “This commonsense legislation would crack down on PFAS pollution by including these dangerous chemicals under the Clean Air Act, and I will continue working with Senator Shaheen to move this bill forward.”

“Senator Shaheen has been a steady advocate for the greater Merrimack area where several communities have been impacted by years of PFAS contamination originating from industry air emissions. PFAS deposition from air emissions has created a nightmare for residents as despite known toxicity, these chemicals are not regulated under the Clean Air Act. This bill would further protect our families and environment from further harm as thus far we have been powerless to stop the source of PFAS due to the lack of federal regulations,” said Laurene Allen of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of chemicals known as “forever chemicals” – can accumulate and stay in the human body and environment for long periods of time. According to the EPA, there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes, including effects on the immune system, cancer, thyroid hormone disruption and low infant birth rates.

The Environmental Working Group recently identified nearly 30,000 potential industrial dischargers of PFAS into the air and water. However, there are currently no restrictions on industrial PFAS discharges under the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act, leaving communities vulnerable to the devastating impacts of PFAS pollution. While it is well documented how toxic PFAS chemicals are prevalent in the water supply, PFAS are also emitted into the air.

The EPA has acknowledged that “air emissions of PFAS from industrial sources is now recognized as a significant route for PFAS releases to the environment and is evidenced by deposition as well as their presence in rainwater.” Yet PFAS air emissions are not regulated under the Clean Air Act or any other anti-pollution law. Just this week, the EPA released their comprehensive national strategy to confront PFAS pollution, which outlines EPA’s efforts to build the technical foundation on PFAS air emissions to evaluate mitigation options, including listing certain PFAS as hazardous air pollutants. Senators Shaheen and Padilla’s legislation lists PFOA, PFOS, PFBS and GenX as hazardous air pollutants under Section 112(b) of the Clean Air Act and directs the EPA create a list of categories of major sources and area sources that emit PFAS within 2 years, and gives EPA a 5-year deadline to finalize the subsequent regulations.

Adding PFAS to the EPA’s HAPs list would build upon work done by states to limit air emissions from industrial facilities and greatly expand the number of facilities that would have to adopt technology to reduce PFAS emissions.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan are leading efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Through Shaheen’s leadership in negotiations around the bipartisan infrastructure deal,  she helped secure $55 billion to upgrade and replace water infrastructure in New Hampshire and across the country – the largest investment in clean water in America’s history. This includes $10 billion to address PFAS contamination and $15 billion to replace lead service lines, which have been significant issues impacting Granite State communities. The infrastructure bill that passed the Senate also includes Hassan’s amendment to help more communities across New Hampshire combat toxic contamination in their drinking water. In addition to Shaheen’s comprehensive PFAS amendment with Senators Gillibrand and Blumenthal, Shaheen successfully secured an authorization for an additional $15 million to continue the PFAS health impact study at Pease in the FY2022 Senate Armed Services Committee-approved National Defense Authorization Act. Shaheen has fought to secure consistent federal support for this study that she established 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.