Bennet Called on Federal Government to Include Colorado Sites in Study on Human Effects of PFAS
Denver – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today issued the following statement after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) announced that the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has been awarded a grant to conduct the El Paso County component of the national study to examine the relationship between exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), chemicals that have contaminated drinking water sources in Colorado and across the country, and certain health outcomes.
The multi-site study seeks to enroll 6,000 adults and 2,000 children across all sites, and research activities will focus on assessing health outcomes related to exposure to PFAS-contaminated drinking water. Earlier this year, the CDC identified multiple communities across the country, to include El Paso County, where they will begin the exposure assessments in 2020. Last year, Bennet sent a letter to the ATSDR and the Department of Defense urging the agencies to include sites near El Paso County and Peterson Air Force Base (AFB) that are affected by water contamination in the study.
“It’s long past time we treat this public health crisis with the seriousness it merits,” said Bennet. “PFAS contamination is putting the health of Coloradans at risk, and we must do everything we can to ensure our families have safe drinking water. The research teams at the Colorado School of Public Health are already engaged on some of the biggest questions surrounding PFAS contamination in El Paso County and I’m pleased they will bring their expertise to this critical study.”
In 2015 elevated levels of PFAS caused from fire retardant foam used at Peterson AFB were measured in drinking water in the communities of Fountain, Security, and Widefield, an issue that has now been identified in water supply wells south of the United States Air Force Academy, as well. The extent of that contamination is newly under investigation. Bennet successfully secured $10 million for the nationwide CDC study in the 2018 omnibus package. He also secured an additional $44 million in funding for Air Force environmental restoration and remediation in the 2018 omnibus package, a significant amount of which was used for remediation around Peterson AFB. Finally, Bennet demanded the Trump administration, specifically the CDC and the ATSDR, release the results of a study regarding what levels of certain chemicals are safe in drinking water.
For the last two years, Bennet has worked to address the health effects, cleanup, and reimbursement issues associated with PFAS, chemicals used in firefighting foams that have contaminated drinking water sources near military bases across the country.
- Bennet and 13 of his Senate colleagues introduced the PFAS Action Plan of 2019 to mandate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances after the EPA released a plan which fell short of establishing enforceable drinking water standards and failed to set clear guidelines for cleanup and remediation, among other concerns.
- In June, Bennet introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to authorize the U.S. Air Force to reimburse local water districts for actions they took to mitigate PFAS contamination in drinking water.
- Bennet wrote to the CDC to ask that the nationwide study include communities in Colorado near Peterson AFB.
- Bennet visited communities around Peterson AFB to receive an update on remediation efforts. There, Bennet also received an update on the challenges water districts are having receiving reimbursement for steps they took to clean up drinking water.
- Bennet demanded the Trump administration (CDC and the ATSDR) release the results of a study regarding what levels of certain chemicals are safe in drinking water. According to news reports at the time, the EPA had been working to block the release of results from a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study on the toxicity of certain PFAS.
- Bennet passed an amendment to provide funding for the Department of Defense to reimburse state and municipal water authorities for actions they took to clean up and mitigate PFAS in drinking water. The amendment was included in the Department of Defense-Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate in 2018. The provision was not included in the final version of the bill that was signed into law.
- Bennet wrote to the CDC/ASTDR to voice disappointment that the CDC will not include military and civilian firefighters in its investigations of the human health effects of PFAS contamination pursuant to Section 316 of the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA.
- Bennet pushed for a nationwide study on the health effects of PFAS and for additional funding for remediation and clean up.
- Bennet secured $10 million for the nationwide CDC study in the 2018 omnibus package.
- Bennet secured an additional $44 million in funding for Air Force environmental restoration and remediation in the 2018 omnibus package. A significant amount of that funding was used for remediation around Peterson AFB in Colorado.
- Bennet supported a provision in the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA that required a plan on how the Department of Defense might reimburse state or municipal agencies that expended funds to provide alternative water supplies.