Shaheen and Murkowski lead bipartisan letter to DOD requesting update on firefighters’ blood tests
23 December 2021
(Washington, DC) – US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – a senior member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee – led a bipartisan letter with US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and 20 other Senators at the Department of Defense (DOD), in response to the DOD Inspector General’s Report on Mitigating and Preventing L Exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) at DOD facilities. The investigation revealed a lack of proactive measures taken to limit exposure to substances that could expose people and the environment to PFAS, as well as an underuse of data collected as part of the PFAS blood testing program. for DOD firefighters. The senators’ letter calls for a presentation on the progress of the development by the ministry of a plan for monitoring, trend and analysis of the results of the PFAS blood tests of the DOD firefighters, and of the provisional measures that DOD can take to improve exposure visibility based on currently collected blood test data. .
Senators wrote, ââ¦ PFAS contamination has been found or is suspected in nearly 700 current and former DoD facilities across the country. The use of PFAS-laden fire-fighting foam (AFFF) contaminated the water supply, causing untold damage to military personnel, military families and defense communities. As first responders, DoD firefighters have a unique and recurring exposure to AFFF for training and emergency response that has placed them at increased risk of health complications such as cancer, diabetes and high cholesterol. . Additionally, there are concerns that firefighters may also be exposed to PFAS over time through their protective clothing, known as response suits. However, the full extent of PFAS exposure for DoD firefighters was unknown due to inadequate data collection processes. “
Senators went on to quote the PFAS Protection of Military Firefighters Act, which Shaheen and Murkowski led and successfully included in the 2021 Exercise Defense Bill that became law, required the DOD to provide firefighters with PFAS blood tests to determine the severity of their exposures and for inclusion in their health records.
The Senators continued, “While the DOD OIG report found that the ministry was complying with the requirement to provide PFAS blood tests to firefighters, it also found that there was no plan to ‘track, track and analyze resultsâ¦ â
they concluded, “Therefore, we respectfully request a briefing on the progress of the department’s development of a plan for tracking, trending and analyzing DOD firefighter PFAS blood test results and opportunities improve exposure visibility based on the blood test data being collected. “
The senators’ letter can be read in full here.
Besides Shaheen and Murkowski, the letter is signed by US Senators Carper (D-DE), Collins (R-ME), Reed (D-RI), Gillibrand (D-NY), Blumenthal (D-CT), Hassan ( D-NH), Casey (D-PA), Warren (D-MA), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Sanders (I-VT), Wyden (D-OR), Rosen (D -NV), Durbin (D-IL), Bennet (D-CO), Ossoff (D-GA), Van Hollen (D-MD), King (I-ME), Peters (D-MI) and Padilla (D -THAT).
Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects of PFAS contamination, respond to chemical exposure, and clean up polluted sites. Senator Shaheen was successful in including the PFAS provisions in the Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Bill that was recently sent to the President’s office. She fought successfully for the authorization of an additional $ 15 million to continue the PFAS Health Impact Study that she created as part of the 2018 NDAA exercise. Shaheen also successfully added his comprehensive amendment to PFAS based on his legislation, the PFAS Exposure Assessment and Documentation Act, which would codify a PFAS task force to address these toxic chemicals. The amendment would also require the DOD to complete the PFAS testing of the facilities within two years, direct the DOD to develop a schedule for the remediation of contaminated sites and to report on the status of the clean-up of certain sites, including including Pease. The final text also included the efforts championed by Shaheen in the Senate to temporarily halt the incineration of PFAS substances until the Defense Department ensures that it complies with existing laws and to fill a loophole whereby the DOD could have circumvented the cremation rules. In addition, the text includes requirements for a report on the DOD’s purchase of certain items containing PFAS and additional public disclosures of drinking water and groundwater test results, as well as improved guidelines for the spill prevention and AFFF mitigation.
These soon-to-be-law PFAS provisions are in addition to the $ 10 billion to fight PFAS, which Shaheen included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Shaheen helped lead negotiations on water provisions in the new infrastructure law.