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House Passes Kildee Amendments to Address PFC Drinking Water Contamination

July 14, 2017
Press Release

NDAA Amendments Require Defense Department to Conduct Health Study on Impacts of Harmful PFCs and Look for Alternative to Toxic Chemical

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed two bipartisan amendments introduced by Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) concerning drinking water contamination in communities across the country, including Oscoda, that have been affected by the military’s use of perflourinated chemicals (PFCs). Kildee’s amendments were included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 that passed the House today.

Kildee joined a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in introducing the amendments, including Representatives Brendan Boyle (PA-13), Patrick Meehan (PA-07), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), Ann Kuster (NH-02), and Paul Tonko (NY-20). Both amendments urge the Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. Air Force to do more to care for veterans and residents exposed to PFCs, which are harmful to humans.

The first amendment requires the DOD to conduct a study on the health impacts of exposure to two types of PFCs at military installations, perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, which have been found in high levels in drinking water near Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, among other places. The study would be conducted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The second amendment requires the DOD to submit a report to Congress on the status of developing an alternative to PFCs.

“I am pleased the House has acted on our bipartisan amendments to help veterans exposed to harmful PFCs receive the medical attention they need,” Congressman Kildee said. “The Air Force and the Department of Defense must do more to address harmful chemicals like PFCs, including caring for veterans exposed to these toxic substances as a part of their service but also residents living near military bases who now have contaminated drinking water.”

For years, the Air Force used PFCs as part of firefighting foam at Wurtsmith Air Force Base and other military bases around the country. According to the CDC, PFCs pose a potential risk for kidney and liver damage. There is also potential concern about other health problems, including low birth weight, delayed puberty onset, elevated cholesterol levels, and reduced immunologic responses to vaccination.

Since learning of PFC contamination in drinking water around Wurtsmith Airforce Base, Congressman Kildee has repeatedly called on the U.S. Air Force to do more to help residents in the surrounding area get access to safe drinking water. Congressman Kildee also visited Oscoda multiple times to meet with local, state and air force officials to push for swift action.

Congressman Kildee also recently met with the Director of the CDC’s ATSDR to discuss PFCs’ impact on human health. Congressman Kildee continues to work closely with Oscoda Township, and federal, state and local agencies to prevent the further exposure to PFCs and provide residents with clean drinking water.