Shaheen Secures Ban of PFAS Chemicals in Firefighting Foam, Continued Funding for Health Impact Study & Blood Tests for Military Firefighters in National Defense Bill
**Shaheen Established the PFAS Health Impact Study in the Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Defense Bill**
**Shaheen Fought for Pease to Serve as a Model Site for Nationwide PFAS Health Impact Study**
(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after Senate and House conferees released the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year. Among the numerous New Hampshire and national defense priorities secured by Shaheen are several measures that respond to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure, which has been a serious issue in New Hampshire communities.
“For years, New Hampshire residents have rightly fought for more information, and greater transparency and accountability, in response to their exposure to PFAS chemicals in drinking water. The provisions included in this annual defense bill will help answer those long overdue questions and concerns,” said Shaheen. “This bill ensures that the health impact study at Pease will continue to move forward without delay and addresses occupational exposure, which impacts our firefighters and military members at a higher rate. While this legislation takes important steps forward, I’m disappointed that some PFAS provisions, which have garnered overwhelming bipartisan support, were substantially weakened. Our work must not end here – remediating polluted sites, investing in research and development to find alternatives to PFAS and understanding the full health implications related to PFAS exposure must remain top congressional priorities. I will continue to raise these issues with the administration, reach across the aisle on legislation to confront these problems head on, and work with our local partners to ensure New Hampshire voices are heard and represented every step of the way.”
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. The defense bill released today includes a provision secured by Shaheen that would phase out the use of PFAS in Department of Defense firefighting foams and prohibit its use in the military after October 1, 2024. The provision also requires the military to publish a new firefighting foam military specification by January 1, 2023 and ensure it is available for use by October 1, 2023. 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.
The defense bill also includes a significant package of legislation, cosponsored by Shaheen, aimed at combating PFAS exposure. This PFAS package includes Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which would expedite analysis of water contaminants like PFAS and provide support and resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials. In addition to the Shaheen bill, the NDAA requires federal facilities, including military and National Guard installations, to expedite cooperative agreements with states to address PFAS contamination and add PFAS chemicals to the Toxics Release Inventory, requiring certain manufacturers and producers of PFAS to publicly report their use of the chemicals to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The PFAS package would also require the U.S. Geological Survey to develop advanced testing methods to detect PFAS in the environment and conduct nationwide sampling to test surface and groundwater sources for PFAS.
Also included in the defense bill is 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.
The FY20 NDAA will next be considered by both chambers of Congress before it is sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.