Portsmouth woman testifies at first U.S. Senate hearing on PFAS contamination

Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan brought concerns from Granite Staters on Wednesday in the first-ever U.S. Senate hearing on PFAS contamination.
Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense fielded questions from Shaheen, Hassan and other U.S. senators about what is being done to study the health effects of the chemicals.
“Are there technology improvements that are being worked on or lie ahead to improve the treatment of drinking water and reduce cost to private well owners?” Hassan asked.
“Absolutely, without question, and EPA has an active research program in collaboration with other federal partners to identify technologies for treating these compounds, not only in drinking water, but actually in other sources like contaminated sites,” replied Peter Grevatt, directors of the EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.
“While we have studies that indicate potential adverse health effects due to a few PFAS, our findings are limited, and we do not have data for thousands of PFAS that have not been well-studied,” said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health.
Hassan invited Portsmouth resident Andrea Amico, who started the push for group testing for Pease International Tradeport.
Amico testified before the committee about how contaminated water has affected her family.
“I live every day with worry that my children, who were exposed to high levels of PFAS in their early life and at critical stages of their development, will now suffer adverse health effects over their lifetime,” Amico said.
“However, I have channeled those feelings of anxiety and worry into my advocacy work by forming a community action group called Testing for Pease, with two other mothers, Alayna Davis and Michelle Dalton.” The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is holding a meeting in Merrimack on Oct. 10 to provide an update on the PFAS investigation.

Pair of PFAS Bills introduced in Senate

WASHINGTON, AUG 29, 2018 — U.S. Sens.
Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at making sure federal agencies are held accountable for cleaning up PFAS contamination across the country.
The PFAS Accountability Act calls for federal facilities, including military installations, to expedite cooperative agreements with states to address PFAS contamination.
The PFAS Detection Act provides the U.S. Geological Survey with $45 million over five years to monitor the natural environment for the chemicals.
In May 2016, the U.S. EPA set permanent health advisories for PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA at 70 parts per trillion.
Recently, President Donald Trump signed the Defense Authorization Act for 2019, which includes another $10 million secured by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for the first-ever study on the health effects faced by people exposed to PFAS chemicals.
Shaheen’s amendments to the act during the past two years include a total of $17 million toward the first two years of the first ever national PFAS health study.

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Announces $16M Grant to Improve Water Infrastructure

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S.
Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) announced a $16 million Clean Water State Revolving Fund Capitalization Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) to improve water infrastructure and protect clean drinking water supplies.
NHDES was also awarded an additional $162,000 to fund New Hampshire’s Water Quality Management Planning program to improve contaminated water and water supplies across the state.
“Granite State families deserve safe and clean drinking water, and this grant will provide significant resources to help communities across our state protect water quality,” said Shaheen.
“I am pleased to announce this increased funding to improve our state’s water infrastructure, and I will continue to work across the aisle to advocate for federal resources to bolster New Hampshire’s clean water initiatives that safeguard public health.” “Clean water is critical for our citizens to lead healthy lives, and it is at the heart of our state’s economic development, healthy families, and vibrant communities,” said Hassan.
“I am pleased to announce these federal grants, which will go toward our efforts to ensure that all Granite Staters have access to safe drinking water by investing in our clean water infrastructure and improving water quality.
Though there is still more work to be done to protect our water from harmful contaminants, such as PFAS, these federal grants are a step in the right direction.” “Every American has a right to clean air and water,” said Shea-Porter.
“No one should have to worry that their water is contaminated or their children are being harmed by contaminated water.
Clean drinking water is essential for public health, and this federal grant demonstrates how federal, state, and local governments can work together to improve wastewater treatment, protect our environment, and improve drinking water quality.” “This grant will help support efforts to ensure that municipal wastewater systems are functioning efficiently and protecting the health of our communities,” said Kuster.
“I strongly oppose efforts to cut resources that are helping local communities safeguard access to quality water resources.

Senate Committee Moves to Release Water Contamination Study

The committee has called for the release of an emerging contaminant PFAS study, which recommends a lower health advisory standard The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill that includes report language requiring the Trump Administration to release a key scientific study previously blocked.
The study proposed safe levels for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals in drinking water at levels nearly six times lower than those the U.S. EPA recommends.
The amendment to the committee report, authored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and approved in the Interior-Environmental spending bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to publish the study within two weeks of the bill becoming law.
Internal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and reported by Politico revealed that the top aides to EPA head Scott Pruitt, as well as Department of Defense and White House officials, sought to block the study’s release.
“Scott Pruitt and the White House clearly will do anything to hide information from the public on any number of issues, including the poisoned drinking water of 100 million Americans,” said Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber.
“But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle understand full well how important clean drinking water is for their constituents and all Americans.”

Lawmakers seek registry for military water contamination cancers, illnesses

Lawmakers have introduced a bill to create a registry of military families experiencing cancers and other illnesses they think may be tied to base water contamination.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., introduced the “PFAS Registry Act” in April.
The legislation would “create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems possibly due to contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, (PFAS)” the senators wrote.
In April, Military Times reported that the Pentagon had released a study on all the bases that have water sources that tested positive for higher than recommended levels of PFOS and PFOA — compounds tied to cancers and birth defects.
PFAS is the larger family of chemicals that includes PFOS and PFOA, compounds that “have emerged as a widespread contaminant to the drinking water sources of military bases across the country due to their use in firefighting foam used by the armed services,” the senators wrote.
Separately, Shaheen secured $7 million in the 2018 federal budget agreement signed in March for a nationwide study of the long-term health affects of PFOS and PFOA on military bases and their surrounding communities.

Shaheen bill takes aim at water contamination

jmcmenemy@seacoastonline.com @JeffreyMcMenemy PORTSMOUTH — Sens.
Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are introducing bipartisan legislation aimed at improving federal efforts to identify the public health effects of emerging contaminants, such as the PFCs that contaminated a city-owned well at the former Pease Air Force Base.
Shaheen noted that PFCs and other emerging contaminants – like cyanotoxins – are increasingly being detected in drinking water around the country.
A state Department of Environmental Services official listed a number of health effects — including cancer — he says are associated with exposure to PFOS and PFOA in drinking water.
The legislation, according to Shaheen, will: • Direct the EPA to create a program to provide federal support and technical assistance to communities with emerging contaminants in their water.
• Direct the EPA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to convene an interagency working group to “improve federal efforts to identify and respond to emerging contaminants.
• Compel the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop an “interagency federal research strategy to improve the identification, analysis and treatment of emerging contaminants.” Portsmouth resident Andrea Amico, who led the successful fight to get anyone exposed to PFCs at the Pease International Tradeport to have their blood tested, said she is “really excited to learn about the proposed legislation by Sen. Shaheen focusing on emerging contaminants.” “I think communities like Pease will benefit from this legislation because it takes a more proactive approach to addressing emerging contaminants,” Amico said Monday.
Amico also wants the EPA to set health advisories for all the PFCs, not just PFOS and PFOA and hopes Shaheen’s bill will inspire them to do that.
“It puts some money into it, it puts some force behind it.” Messmer, who is one of the founders of the New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance, added that her group “applauds Sen. Shaheen for introducing legislation that would improve the state and federal response to emerging contaminants.” “NHSWA was founded to advocate for safe drinking water across New Hampshire where contaminants such as PFCs and 1,4-dioxane threaten the drinking and surface water resources of many cities and towns,” Messmer said.
“NHSWA feels that this proactive legislation is a critical step in protecting our drinking water and reducing chronic illness.” Portman, in a statement Monday, said the legislation will improve federal efforts to identify the health impacts of unregulated contaminants found in our drinking water sources.”