In line with other recent proposed PFAS legislation we have reported on, Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force, introduced new PFAS legislation on July 15, 2020. If passed, the Protecting Firefighters from PFAS Act would require the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to provide health care for military and civilian firefighters exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) on military bases. The Act specifies medical coverage for exposure to PFOA resulting in the following: diagnosed high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension. This coverage could be extended to additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) if health agencies conduct studies that show a “positive association” between exposure to a certain PFAS and a disease or illness. Currently, military and civilian firefighters on military bases are not guaranteed to health care coverage relating to PFAS exposure.
This legislation would also direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in consultation with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to commence a study examining 1) the identity, prevalence, and concentration of PFAS in firefighters’ personal protective equipment (PPE) 2) the conditions and extent to which PFAS are released into the environment from normal use of firefighters’ PPE and 3) the relative risk of exposure to PFAS faced by firefighters through their use of PEE and through the degradation of PPE from normal use. Thereafter, NIST would be required to issue a report containing findings and research recommendations to “avoid unnecessary occupational exposure among firefighters” and solicit research proposals to carry out the recommendations.
The Protecting Firefighters from PFAS Act is not Congressman’s Kildee’s first proposed PFAS legislation, nor his first proposed PFAS legislation concerned with the well-being and safety of firefighters. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, authored by Congressman Kildee, allows commercial airports to use non PFAS-containing firefighting foams to protect firefighters using the foams. Prior to this Act, commercial airports were required to use PFAS-containing firefighting foams due to their effectiveness against jet fuel fires. This Act led to the FAA’s creation of a $5 million fire research facility earlier this year in Atlantic City, NJ to test new fire extinguishing agents indoors to phased out the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams.
Legislators across the country are feeling pressure from constituents to regulate PFAS even though the there is a lack of scientific consensus on PFAS exposure and correlating illnesses.
CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, and administrative developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide, including risk assessments, to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.
Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact any of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: Jessica Deyoe, Suzanne Englot, Alexandra Fraher,or John Gardella.