Congressman Pappas joins bicameral group of lawmakers to introduce Veterans Exposed to Toxic (VET) PFAS Act

April 4, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Chris Pappas joined a bicameral group of lawmakers to introduce the Veterans Exposed to Toxic (VET) PFAS Act, a bill that would guarantee health and disability benefits to veterans and their families exposed to PFAS contaminants. The bill will cover six health conditions, including high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular and kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension as well as health conditions that will be determined by an ongoing study being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control that addresses exposure to PFAS at military bases across the country.

Congressman Pappas (NH-01) is a member of the bipartisan PFAS Task Force, which was created earlier this year to address the growing issue of PFAS contamination.  This issue is affecting communities across New Hampshire’s First Congressional District. Today he participated in a press conference along with PFAS Task Force Chair Dan Kildee (MI-05), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and several other lawmakers to highlight the bill.

Below are Congressman Pappas’s remarks from today’s press conference as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Senator Stabenow and Congressman Kildee. Thank you to my fellow members of the PFAS Task Force.

Today is an important day for veterans across the country.  Today, we’re taking action to guarantee that veterans and their families who have been exposed to PFAS chemicals at military installations can receive the health care benefits they deserve through the VA.

My district contains the former Pease Air Force Base, now home to the Air National Guard, a bustling trade port. Pease is an economic engine for my state and also provides critical support for our military including a fleet of refueling tankers.

It is also the site of well-documented PFAS contamination in groundwater.  Several wells on the base or adjacent to it have registered high levels of PFAS compounds.  It is suspected that firefighting foam containing PFAS which was used over a long period of time played a key role in the water pollution.  Exposure among service members, military families, and the civilian population likely stretched back decades.

For the past five years, military families who were based at Pease have been organizing and fighting hard to secure blood testing and answers. They know what the scientific data says: that PFAS is a serious public health threat and that exposure is linked to chronic health conditions including cancer.  They also know that these contaminants are dangerous even at far lower levels than the EPA’s health advisory recommends.  

We must take care of our veterans and their families who sacrificed for us and in doing so were exposed to PFAS.

That’s why I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of lawmakers today to introduce the “Veterans Exposed to Toxic PFAS Act,” or the VET PFAS Act. 

This legislation provides a presumption of service connection for veterans and will cover high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension along with health conditions that will be determined by an ongoing study by the CDC.

The legislation recognizes that we have a collective responsibility to meet the health care needs of our veterans and their families.  

Some have waited far too long for meaningful action on this issue.  Many more may not be aware that their service has put them in long term danger.  The VET PFAS Act renews the solemn obligation we have to those who have selflessly served and will improve their health and well-being, and we must pass it into law.

While this legislation is a positive step, I think all of us here today acknowledge that this is the one of many steps we must take to guarantee the health and safety of our communities from harmful PFAS contamination.

We must continue to insist on a stronger response from EPA and the federal government that includes lowering maximum contaminant levels, investing in clean up efforts, making testing more available, and providing relevant health information for the public.

I’m eager to work with our bipartisan PFAS Task Force on this pressing matter in the months and years to come in order to ensure we are acting in the best interests of our districts and affected communities.

Thank you.