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Shaheen, Murkowski Lead Bipartisan Letter to DoD Requesting Update on Firefighter Blood Testing | US Senator Gene Shaheen of New Hampshire

December 23, 2021

(Washington, DC) — US Senator Gene Shaheen (D-NH) — a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — Led a bipartisan letter with the Department of Defense (DOD), along with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and 20 other senators, in response to a report from the DoD’s Inspector General of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Risk Mitigation and Prevention On DoD installation. The investigation revealed a lack of proactive measures taken to limit exposure to substances that may expose people and the environment to PFAS, as well as those collected through the PFAS blood test program for DoD firefighters May use less data. The senators’ letter calls for a briefing on the state of the department’s development to track, trend and analyze DoD firefighter PFAS blood test results, and interim steps DoD will take for exposure visibility based on the blood test data currently being collected. can be taken for improvement. ,

the senators wrote, “… PFAS contamination has been found or suspected at approximately 700 current and former DoD installations nationwide. The use of PFAS-laden fire extinguishing foam (AFFF) has contaminated water supplies, causing service members, military families and defense communities have suffered untold harm. As first responders, DoD firefighters have unique and recurring exposure to AFFF for training and emergency response that put them at greater risk of health complications such as cancer, diabetes and high cholesterol Additionally, there are concerns that over time firefighters may be exposed to PFAS through their protective clothing, which is known as turnout gear. The full extent of PFAS exposure was unknown.”

Senators cited this Protecting Military Firefighters from the PFAS Act, which was led by Shaheen and Murkowski and successfully incorporated into the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 defense bill, which became law, empowers the DoD to use a PFAS blood test to determine the severity of their exposure and to include in their health records. needed to be provided with firefighters.

Senators continue, “While the DOD OIG report found that the department was complying with the requirement to provide PFAS blood tests to firefighters, it also found that there were no plans to track, trend and analyze the results…”

he concluded“Therefore, we respectfully request a briefing on the situation on the department’s development to track, trend and analyze DoD firefighter PFAS blood test results and exposure visibility based on blood test data currently being collected. opportunities to improve.”

The senators’ letter can be read in full here.

In addition to Shaheen and Murkowski, the letter was signed by US Senators Carper (D-DE), Collins (R-ME), Reid (D-RI), Gillibrand (D-NY), Blumenthal (D-CT), Hassan Huh. (D-NH), Casey (D-PA), Warren (D-MA), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Sanders (I-VT), Weyden (D-OR), Rosen ( D-NV), Durbin (D-IL), Bennett (D-CO), Ossoff (D-GA), Van Hollen (D-MD), King (I-ME), Peters (D-MI) and Padilla ( D-ca).

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to chemical exposure, and address polluted sites. Senator Shaheen succeeded in including PFAS provisions in the Defense Bill for FY 2022, which was sent to the President’s desk recently. He successfully fought for an additional $15 million authorization to continue the PFAS Health Effects Study created in the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA. Shaheen successfully added her own comprehensive PFAS amendment based on her legislation, the PFAS Exposure Assessment and Documentation Act, which would codify a PFAS task force to address these toxic chemicals. The amendment would require DoD to complete PFAS testing of installations within two years, to develop a remedial program for contaminated sites to DoD and to report on the status of cleanup at certain sites – including pees. The final text also included Shaheen’s efforts in the Senate to temporarily halt the incineration of PFAS substances until the Defense Department ensures it is complying with existing laws and is closing a loophole. Through which DoD is violating incineration rules. In addition, the text includes requirements for a report on DoD procurement of certain items containing PFAS and additional public disclosure of drinking and groundwater test results, as well as AFFF’s improved guidance for spill prevention and mitigation.

These PFAS provisions that will soon become law are in addition to the $10 billion to address PFAS, which Shaheen included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Shaheen helped lead negotiations on water provisions in the new infrastructure law.

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