Shaheen, Rounds Reintroduce Bill to Help Service Members & Their Families Exposed to PFAS Contamination

April 18, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced her bipartisan legislation with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) last week to help track contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at military installations. The PFAS Registry Act would create a national database for service members and veterans and allow them to receive updates on recent scientific developments – including the effects of PFAS exposure, availability of possible treatment options and information on what resources may be available to address their health concerns.

PFAS chemicals, like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), have emerged as widespread contaminants in drinking water sources of military bases across the country and are tied to serious illness and health effects. The Pease International Tradeport formerly served as an Air Force base and experienced considerable drinking water contamination from PFAS chemicals. These emerging contaminants have been found in the drinking water of 600 military installations nationwide

“After dedicating their lives to serve our nation, our service members deserve every resource available to stay healthy after being exposed to PFAS contamination,” said Shaheen. “The federal government has a duty to ensure access to information and treatment so families can stay safe, and establishing a national database for service members is crucial to that mission. Our service members and their families deserve nothing short of the best care available – especially after being exposed to potentially harmful PFAS chemicals.”

“As the military continues to clean up PFAS contamination around our bases, we owe full transparency to the individuals likely impacted,” said Rounds. “Our bipartisan legislation will create a national PFAS registry and hold the VA accountable for regularly updating our service members and veterans on the latest information and treatments related to PFAS contamination.”

Senator Shaheen has spearheaded efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Shaheen has consistently secured and boosted federal funding for the PFAS health impact study that she worked to establish 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. Shaheen added numerous provisions to the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that became law, including a provision based on her standalone legislation to authorize a comprehensive study of the personal protective equipment worn by firefighters to determine the identity and concentration of PFAS, as well as firefighters’ risk of exposure to these harmful chemicals from the gear. The FY21 NDAA also establishes a federal grant program and authorizes $2.5 million to advance the development of safe alternatives to PFAS chemicals in personal protective equipment. Shaheen also boosted funding for the health impact study for the year to $15 million.