Eleven Members of Congress – Led by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter – Call for Investigation of Groundwater Pollution at Military Installations Nationwide, Including Pease
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today led a bipartisan letter to Congressional appropriators urging $7 million to launch a national health impact study of sites like Pease affected by the U.S. military’s historic use of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
“Our service men and women, veterans, and other constituents who have been exposed to perfluorinated chemicals deserve answers on both the short- and long-term health impacts of these contaminants,” wrote the Members. “Now that we have established that groundwater contamination exists and that the current body of evidence indicates a clear danger of long-term health risks, we can begin to remedy past mistakes by launching this much-needed study with this $7 million investment in our troops, our veterans, their families, and affected civilians.”
The geographic diversity of the letter’s cosigners reflects the national scope of PFC contamination. The Members of Congress who cosigned the letter are: Ami Bera (CA-07), Paul Cook (CA-08), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Mark Takano (CA-41), Bill Keating (MA-09), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Brendan Boyle (PA-13), and Rick Larsen (WA-02).
Shea-Porter’s appropriations push follows last week’s passage of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included an amendment she cosponsored directing the Department of Defense to conduct a health impact study on the effects of exposure to PFCs at affected military installations, including Pease.
Full text of the letter:
Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen, Chairwoman Granger, Ranking Member Lowey, and Ranking Member Visclosky:
As Members representing districts affected by the U.S. military’s historic use of perfluorinated chemicals, we write to request your support for an appropriation of $7 million to launch a nationwide health impact study conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in FY2018. Our service men and women, veterans, and other affected constituents deserve answers about how they and their children may have been affected by these chemicals, which the Environmental Protection Agency classifies as emerging contaminants.
Beginning in the 1970s, more than 600 U.S. military fire training sites used Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a firefighting foam that contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Testing conducted by the Department of Defense at many of these sites has found groundwater levels of PFOA and PFOS that exceed EPA guidelines. In fact, a 2016 study by researchers at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences found that public drinking water for six million Americans exceeds the EPA’s lifetime advisory limits for perfluorinated chemicals.
Because of the broad scope of PFOA and PFOS use by entities including the U.S military, contaminated drinking water now poses a nationwide public health threat. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), PFOA is especially problematic “because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time.” Numerous peer-reviewed studies indicate health dangers of perfluorinated chemicals, including links to testicular, kidney, and thyroid cancer and impaired immune system performance. However, ACS says “more research is needed to clarify these findings,” because a comprehensive, long-term study of the health impacts of PFOA and PFOS has not yet been conducted.
That is why we see a clear and pressing need for a longitudinal ATSDR study of this serious public health concern. Our service men and women, veterans, and other constituents who have been exposed to perfluorinated chemicals deserve answers on both the short- and long-term health impacts of these contaminants. Such a study’s findings could give them information they need to take proactive measures, such as more frequent cancer screenings, to protect their own and their children’s health.
Unfortunately, these emerging contaminants were used at sites across the United States. However, now that we have established that groundwater contamination exists and that the current body of evidence indicates a clear danger of long-term health risks, we can begin to remedy past mistakes by launching this much-needed study with this $7 million investment in our troops, our veterans, their families, and affected civilians.
Ann McLane Kuster
Sean Patrick Maloney
Daniel T. Kildee