February 27, 2019

Western Massachusetts Communities to be Included in Health Study of Harmful Chemicals

Announcement Comes After Senator Warren Pressed Agencies to Take Additional Action to Determine Whether Prolonged Contact with PFAS Contaminants is a Contributing Factor to High Incidences of Cancer

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) applauded an announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) that Hampden County and the Barnes Air Reserve Base surrounding area will be included in a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) health study to determine the health effects of occupational exposure of PFAS.
PFAS are harmful chemicals that can be found in a type of firefighting foam used since the 1970s. Both civilian firefighters and military personnel have used these foams, and there is particular concern that PFAS chemicals have led to water contamination around military bases across the country, including in Massachusetts.
“Our firefighters and first responders are exposed to harsh chemicals while they do everything they can to keep us safe,” Senator Warren said. “Though there is still work to be done, I am pleased that Hampden County and the Barnes Air Reserve Base surrounding area will be included in a PFAS study.”
The senator has been a strong advocate for firefighters, police officers, and first responders who often risk their lives to protect the Commonwealth and are exposed to PFAS contaminants. In August 2018, Senator Warren filed two amendments to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to improve data collection and research conducted on health and occupational safety concerns facing firefighters, police officers and other first responders in the Commonwealth. 
The senator also joined a bipartisan letter in December 2018 to CDC and ATSDR, requesting that the agencies take additional steps to ensure that the health effects of occupational exposure to PFAS, particularly in firefighters, are sufficiently studied.
She also joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in cosponsoring an amendment to the 2019 Defense Appropriations bill allowing for some funds to be used by the Air National Guard to reimburse state local water authorities for remediation of PFAS.