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Shaheen Statement on National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health

The report issued by NASEM will inform clinical guidance Shaheen has long worked toward

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement on a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) on health guidance for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which was made public yesterday. The report is available in full here.

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.

“The information in this report is important as we further our understanding on the scope of PFAS exposure and prioritize how to guide our health response to those in contaminated areas. This is personal for Granite Staters and especially individuals and families who were exposed to PFAS contaminants at Pease, who are among the first participants in the multi-site study being conducted by ATSDR. These families, and all those I've met who’ve been impacted by PFAS exposure, are why I have fought so hard to provide answers on what exposure means for their health and safety,” said Shaheen. “The NASEM report confirms what many of us have come to understand over the years: PFAS is detrimental to our health. But most critically, this report provides guidance on where we go from here, including clinical direction for those with elevated levels of PFAS. I am also grateful that NASEM welcomed participation from Testing for Pease and Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water to help inform this critically important report. The revelations of this report also underscore how necessary it is to prioritize PFAS research, which is why I'll continue to push for investments to deliver the answers parents need to keep their families safe and that physicians need to advise and care for their patients. ”

Testing for Pease co-founder, Andrea Amico, said, “As a community liaison on this NASEM project, I was able to provide a first-hand perspective on what PFAS impacted communities experience and what we need related to PFAS blood testing and medical monitoring guidance. I’m deeply grateful for the NASEM committee’s work and their involvement in engaging with communities, listening to our needs, and recommending much needed guidance to clinicians so we can take control of our health. These recommendations will empower communities and health care providers to obtain PFAS blood testing and sets a road map for medical monitoring to help improve the lives and wellbeing of PFAS impacted communities. These recommendations will save lives and PFAS impacted communities across the nation are celebrating this tremendous milestone.”

Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water co-founder, Laurene Allen, said, “It was an honor to be nominated as a community liaison and to assist the NASEM in better understanding the experiences and needs of our residents in the greater Merrimack area who have been exposed to PFAS via environmental contamination of our drinking water sources. A standard of care for those in known exposure areas has been laid out by this report, including blood testing, indicated health screenings and clinical guidance on responding to citizen concerns. Those of us who live in areas of known PFAS contamination continually struggle with the fear of what health impacts our families will face. I am relieved that the clinical guidance outlined in this report will finally give our physicians the tools they need to monitor our health and prevent the progression of diseases known to be associated with PFAS exposure.”

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.