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Shaheen, Peters, Moran Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster and Expand Federal Research to Effectively Address PFAS Contamination

Bipartisan Bill Would Help Advance Our Understanding of PFAS Chemicals; Provide Recommendations and Better Inform Decisions on How to Effectively Address PFAS Contamination

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help advance the federal government’s understanding of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and better inform plans to effectively address PFAS contamination – which continues to impact communities across the country.

PFAS chemicals have been detected in our air, water, food and soil, and can lead to serious health effects, including cancer, low infant birthweight, liver and kidney issues and reproductive and developmental problems. However, much remains unknown about these harmful substances, including their specific levels of toxicity, impacts on human and environmental health, pathways to exposure and effective methods of removal, treatment and destruction.

Such information is necessary to inform regulatory action and implement successful cleanup efforts, but current federal research efforts are fragmented and have struggled to address the full scope of the threats posed by PFAS chemicals. The Senators’ Federal PFAS Research Evaluation Act would require that federal agencies with expertise related to PFAS work with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on a consensus study to help inform decisions by the federal government, state government, key stakeholders and partners on how to best address PFAS contamination.

“PFAS contamination is a serious concern that far too many Granite State families live with – from exposure in drinking water supplies to exposure in first responders’ protective gear. These pervasive chemicals have found their way into our water, soil and products and that demands a comprehensive strategy, including robust resources for research, so we understand the full scope of human health implications,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m helping to lead this bipartisan legislation to enhance federal research on PFAS chemicals to better inform our policies aimed at preventing contamination, remediating polluted sites and educating health providers and communities about potential health risks. I’ve long fought for policies to address the pervasive problem of PFAS contamination and will keep fighting to deliver the tools our communities need to stay safe and to provide the overdue answers affected Americans deserve.”

“Without being properly addressed, PFAS chemicals will continue to threaten the health and safety of communities in Michigan and across the country,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation would enable us to have more comprehensive federal research to better inform mitigation efforts and help protect families, first responders, our environment, and the Great Lakes.”

“This legislation is a meaningful step forward to better understand how these chemicals harm our communities,” said Senator Moran. “This bipartisan effort will bolster our nation’s research into effective ways to counter dangerous toxins. By utilizing expertise and resources collected from several agencies, we can make ourselves and our families safer.”

Specifically, the Senators’ legislation would direct the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), in coordination with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Secretary of Defense, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and heads of other federal agencies with expertise on PFAS substances to enter into an agreement with the National Academies to study and report on a federal research agenda that would advance the understanding of PFAS substances. The bill would result in four nonpartisan, consensus reports identifying the research needed to understand human exposure and toxicity estimations of PFAS, and identify management and treatment options for PFAS contamination.

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. Shaheen has fought to secure consistent federal support for the PFAS health impact study that she established four years ago. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. As a lead negotiator of water provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law, Shaheen secured record-level funding to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and address PFAS contamination, including $72 million in grants to New Hampshire announced by the Environmental Protection Agency last fall. In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 government funding law that Shaheen helped write, she worked to secure support for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address treatment solutions, conduct research and undertake regulatory actions outlined in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Shaheen also helped secure more than $224 million in funding for PFAS investigation, testing, remediation and disposal on and around U.S. military installations. The law will provide more than $35 million for aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) removal and remediation.  

Just last week, Shaheen led a letter with 35 Senators to President Biden urging the administration to include funding in the budget request to more comprehensively address PFAS contamination. Specifically, the letter asks for funding dedicated to close gaps in data and research, support ongoing testing and cleanup efforts, and support regulations to better protect the public and environment from PFAS contamination.