The PFAS Action Act of 2021 Protects Florida's Future & Servicemembers

WASHINGTON D.C. - The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill that would begin to address the country's PFAS crisis. The PFAS Action Act of 2021 creates a national drinking water standard for select chemicals, designates PFAS as hazardous substances to allow the EPA to clean up contaminated sites, limits industrial discharges, and provides millions of dollars annually to assist water utilities and wastewater treatment facilities. Now the bill goes to the Senate. 

Military communities throughout Florida are dealing with contamination of their groundwater, soil, and drinking water. Service members used aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) during training, where exposure to PFAS was inevitable. The Department of Defense knew these toxic "forever chemicals" were dangerous in the 1970s but continued to use AFFF, exposing military service members and their families to these harmful perfluorinated compounds. The EPA also knew these chemicals were toxic since 1998 and failed to protect the environment as these chemical compounds are being found in waterways, leaving the base fence line.

PFAS Contamination Map

Scientific research
has linked exposures to PFAS to a wide range of health effects such as a weaker immune system, cancer, heart defect, increased cholesterol levels, liver and kidney damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. The PFAS Action Act of 2021 will restrict PFAS pollution and help clean up polluted sites. 

One of the top contaminated bases in the nation is Patrick Space Force Base (previously known as Patrick Air Force Base), located between Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach in Brevard County, Florida. Built-in 1940 as Naval Air Station Banana River, PFAS was found at over 4.3 million parts per trillion in the groundwater. The EPA's unenforceable safety limit is 70 parts per trillion. 

Published Paper on Perfluoroalkyl Acid in Alligators at NASA

NASA has also identified contaminated groundwater at the Kennedy Space Center that exceeds federal standards. In the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, a paper published last year found the blood of alligators caught between 2012 and 2015 at the space center tested at the highest levels of toxic fluorinated chemicals ever measured in the species. 

Congress directed the DoD to end the use of these PFAS-based foams in 2020, but the PFAS Action Act of 2021 takes a bigger step in protecting our defense communities from pollution by designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Liability, and Compensation Act (CERCLA). Designating these chemicals as hazardous substances under CERCLA will ensure that the Defense Department treats PFAS pollution at military installation as a priority. 

These chemicals are also used in pesticides, consumer and industrial products, and were not regulated for decades, leaving behind the contamination. They are known as "forever chemicals" because they do not easily break down in the environment. 

If you were stationed at a contaminated base, you should pay close attention to your health, as you are at risk of developing a disease due to exposure to PFAS.  

The PFAS Action Act would:

  • Require the EPA to establish a national drinking water standard within two years that protect public health for PFOA and PFOS.
  • Designate PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances within a year and require the EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
  • Designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180mdays and require EPA to determine a list of other PFAS within five years.
  • Require EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and provide $200 million annually for wastewater treatment.
  • Prohibit unsafe incineration of PFAS waste and place a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce. 
  • Require comprehensive PFAS health testing.
  • Create a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware.

Col. Kevin Williams of Patrick Air Force Base tells the City of Satellite Beach city manager that the DoD report released in 2018 is wrong.

In response, Fight For Zero's Executive Director Stel Bailey said: 

"The DoD continued to escape responsibility for poisoning service members, their families, and surrounding communities. Col. Kevin Williams of Patrick Air Force Base said the DoD report released in 2018 was wrong. The military dismissed, denied, and demeaned our efforts to bring awareness to the harmful effects of being exposed to PFAS, which would help save lives through early detection and prevention.

Affected families not only carried the burden of proof but felt silenced by both the military and local leaders as they used intimidation tactics and further confused the public on information about these emerging contaminants. Communities were told the water was within the "safety limits" when there were no enforceable safety limits set in Florida. They also told the public that these chemicals were only being found in groundwater and to not worry because we didn't drink the groundwater. Independent testing has shown PFOA and PFOS in public drinking water fountains, and other compounds were found in the beachside schools.

We continued to embrace science, partner with experts, and bring awareness to the harmful exposure of this pollution. Focused on water quality and environmental health, it hasn’t been an easy journey. The PFAS Action Act of 2021 would reassure our families who have already suffered the health consequences of this exposure to highly toxic PFAS chemicals that the DoD will clean up their PFAS mess."

Those who voted yes in Florida:
  • Congressman Al Lawson
  • Congressman Bill Posey
  • Congressman Brian Mast
  • Congressman Joe Wilson
  • Congressman Matt Gaetz
  • Congresswoman Kathy Castor
  • Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy

Sources and Recommended Reading:

For Decades, The Department of Defense Knew Fire Fighting Foams Were Dangerous:

PFAS Action Act of 2021:

Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls:

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Alligator Study:

Fight for Zero

Our team brings passion and drive to take on environmental health challenges. Our mission is to inform, educate, share resources, and inspire action to protect natural resources.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form