Blumenthal, Slotkin, Shaheen & Turner Introduce Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Reduce PFAS Exposure Among Servicemembers & Military Families

Pervasive & persistent chemicals are in a variety of everyday items & exposure has been linked to cancer, liver damage, asthma, and other serious health conditions

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and U.S. Representatives Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Mike Turner (R-OH) introduced legislation today to reduce exposure of servicemembers and their families to harmful PFAS chemicals. The bicameral, bipartisan PFAS Free Military Purchasing Act prohibits the Department of Defense from acquiring items that contain these dangerous and toxic chemicals commonly found in food service ware, carpets and rugs, cosmetics, and many other everyday items. PFAS exposure has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.

“Our military should stop buying products with highly hazardous PFAS chemicals – imperiling service members and their families,” said Blumenthal. “PFAS-free products are widely available, whether food ware, carpets, or cosmetics. DOD should lead the nation in seeking safer alternatives rather than needlessly putting health at risk. I am proud to introduce this bicameral legislation to protect the health of our armed services.”

"Given the health concerns about PFAS, we should not be using taxpayer dollars to expose service members or their families to these chemicals, and we should use the massive purchasing power of the Pentagon to incentivize production of non-PFAS goods," said Slotkin. "This bill is an important first step: if we prevent the purchase of products containing PFAS with taxpayer dollars for the Defense Department, it helps open up a conversation about selling PFAS-free products more generally."

“PFAS exposure is a widespread problem in the United States, including New Hampshire, and has been the cause of worry and uncertainty for too many families. That’s why we must prioritize policies to prevent and remediate PFAS chemical exposure. This bill is an important investment in the first part of that strategy: prevention,” said Shaheen. “PFAS chemicals have found their way into not only our water systems, but also every day supplies including food packaging, cosmetics and many other household items. This legislation would help protect our service members and their families from exposure by prohibiting the Department of Defense from procuring items that contain these harmful contaminants. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”

“Over the past few years, I have been aggressively striving to find more ways to prohibit the use of PFAS chemicals, particularly by the Department of Defense,” said Turner. “This bill continues that effort by reducing our military servicemembers and their families’ exposure to these often harmful chemicals. I will be pushing with Rep. Slotkin for this legislation’s inclusion in the FY21 NDAA.”

The PFAS Free Military Purchasing Act is endorsed by the Environmental Working Group and the Green Science Policy Institute.

“Our military service members risk everything to keep us safe,” said Scott Faber, Vice President of the Environmental Working Group, which tracks PFAS pollution at military bases. “We should do everything we can to protect service members from toxic chemicals like PFAS, which contaminate the groundwater of hundreds of DOD installations. We applaud Senators Blumenthal and Shaheen and Representatives Slotkin and Turner for building on the progress made in last year’s NDAA by ending DOD uses of forever chemicals in everyday products like cosmetics and sunscreen.”

"Tens of millions of Americans have been drinking water contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals for decades. We can clean up that drinking water, at great expense, but the PFAS polluting our rivers and lakes will never be removed,” said Arlene Blum. PhD, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. "Our best strategy is to stop the use of PFAS at its source--in products. This legislation does exactly that by instructing the military to stop purchasing products--furniture, carpeting, and even dental floss--containing these harmful chemicals. With the PFAS Free Military Purchasing Act we can have healthier products and healthier people."

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here. A similar version of the legislation was introduced in the House.