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Shaheen Requests Updates on Implementation of PFAS Testing & Health Guidance Regulations Following NASEM Report

The report issued by NASEM informs clinical guidance Shaheen has long worked toward; Shaheen’s letter urges updates from CDC & ATSDR 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter asking for updates on the implementation of recommendations outlined in the recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals – which are linked to adverse health outcomes. The letter was sent to the Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, and the Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Patrick Breysse.  

Specifically, Shaheen asked what progress has been made around establishing training courses for health professionals related to the health impacts of PFAS exposure and what resources are needed to ensure all recommendations are implemented. NASEM released a report on the need for PFAS public health guidance in July, on which Shaheen released a statement

“As you are aware, establishing clinician guidance on PFAS, including testing protocols and physician education, has been a longstanding priority of mine. Due to their use in a variety of residential, commercial and industrial products PFAS chemicals have emerged as widespread pollutants in the drinking water sources for communities across New Hampshire,” Shaheen wrote. I urge ATSDR to swiftly review and update your physician health guidance so individuals, communities and physicians can make thoughtful decisions on how to appropriately respond to the harmful effects PFAS has on human health.” 

She continued, “I respectfully ask for a response to the following questions: What is your progress in developing health monitoring protocols and voluntary training courses for health professionals to understand the potential health impact of PFAS exposure, as directed by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021? What resources does the CDC and ATSDR need in order to successfully and swiftly review and implement the recommendations in NASEM’s report? What plans does ATSDR have to continue physician outreach in light of this new report from NASEM?” 

Shaheen has long worked to get clinicians guidance on testing and protocols, including introducing the Physician Education for PFAS Health Impacts Act, bipartisan legislation that would establish a grant program within the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the creation of training materials for physicians on the health effects of PFAS and best practices for caring for patients who have been exposed to PFAS. Key provisions of Shaheen’s legislation were included in the fiscal year (FY) 2021 government funding legislation that was signed into law. Shaheen is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Specifically, Shaheen’s measure provided $1,000,000 for grants for the development of voluntary training courses for health professionals to understand the potential health impact of PFAS exposure and best practices for treatment. The provision also directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to award multiple grants to medical society organizations, medical institutions with expertise in PFAS, and other organizations as determined appropriate by the Director to develop these training courses. 

Full text of the letter is available here

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 senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she successfully secured the authorization of an additional $20 million for the PFAS health impact study in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) approved by the Committee. She has also fought for additional public disclosures of results of drinking and ground water testing, as well as improved guidance for spill prevention and mitigation of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). In the FY2020 NDAA, Shaheen worked to include the bipartisan Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which expedites analysis of water contaminants like PFAS, provides support and resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials and establishes a national strategy to coordinate the federal response to emerging contaminants.