(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) publishing of unreleased federal reports about widespread water contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). According to POLITICO, the Trump administration hid the existence of these reports from the public and members of Congress for five months. The study examining the levels of toxicity of four types of PFAS chemicals was conducted by HHS's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR.
“Too many New Hampshire families have had to wait and wonder about the potential health implications for their children and loved ones who have been exposed to PFAS-contaminated water,” said Shaheen. “I’m glad the administration heeded the bipartisan call in Congress and finally published these reports which will help further inform the public of the health risks of these chemicals. Granite Staters deserve access to this critical information, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to advance further study of PFAS chemicals, in particular the nationwide study I secured that will feature research at Pease.”
Just last week, Shaheen worked with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) to include a new amendment in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee spending bill directing ATSDR to immediately publish the toxicology reports. The funding bill received unanimous bipartisan support and passed the full committee, clearing a key hurdle. In addition to requiring the release of the delayed reports, the amendment would require that HHS report to Congress about any changes that were made to the four PFAS reports after January 2018 – when the reports were finalized.
Last month, Senator Shaheen sent a letter with the New Hampshire congressional delegation, calling on the Trump administration to immediately release the reports. Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health impact of emerging contaminants in water supplies, and in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that recently passed the Senate, secured the authorization for the second year of funding for the first-ever nationwide PFAS health impact study, which she established in the 2018 NDAA. Shaheen also included specific language in the defense bill to streamline the process of transferring funds from the Department of Defense to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is carrying out the study. Because of Shaheen’s efforts, the Pease International Tradeport will serve as the model site for the nationwide PFAS health study.
Additionally, the 2019 NDAA includes Shaheen’s legislation to create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems potentially due to PFAS exposure. Shaheen’s PFAS Registry Act is a bipartisan effort with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) that would allow military personnel and veterans to receive updates on recent scientific developments on the effects of PFAS exposure and information on what resources may be available to address their health concerns.