WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and a bipartisan group of senators are calling on Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House officials to increase funding for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) testing and remediation, and to improve PFAS-related planning to make use of the higher funding levels that Congress is willing to appropriate to address the pervasive issue.
The senators wrote, in part, “As you know, PFAS chemicals have emerged as widespread contaminants to the drinking water sources of military bases across the country largely due to their presence in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used by the military. Members of the military, veterans and civilians who have served at military installations and/or live in the surrounding communities found to have been contaminated with PFAS face health risks related to exposure to PFAS chemicals, as these materials are found in AFFF, in personal protective equipment used by firefighters and in standard consumer products.”
The senators went on to detail the findings of a recent National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report that calls for expanded access to PFAS testing for Americans with a history of exposure to the chemicals and points to health risks such as high cholesterol, decreased fetal and infant growth and increased risks of kidney cancer for those exposed to PFAS. The senators then continued to detail the robust amount of federal dollars provided by Congress to DoD to accelerate PFAS testing remediation and Congress’ continued willingness to provide additional resources to address the challenges the Department faces due to PFAS exposure.
The senators closed the letter by urging the administration to put greater emphasis on addressing these pollutants. The senators wrote, “Our service members, military families, veterans and defense communities deserve the Department’s full attention to appropriately address the scope and severity of PFAS contamination. We ask you to honor that responsibility and take the steps necessary to prioritize this hazard impacting our communities.”
Senator Heinrich, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and Senator Luján both supported the authorization of $175 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act for the Air Force to address the serious contamination issues found at both Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases.
Read the full text of the letter, led by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), by clicking here.