WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A group of federal lawmakers from Michigan is pushing to require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to cover health conditions linked to PFAS exposure.
The family of thousands of chemicals has been found in drinking and groundwater at more than 400 military bases across the country. The primary source of contamination is a type of foam used in fighting jet fuel fires.
The plan announced Thursday aims to help the men and women who were exposed to PFAS while living in military housing.
“Those families should have never been exposed to those harmful chemicals,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib said at a press conference that included several of her fellow Michigan Democrats.
“We owe them an answer,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin added.
“We’re going to take care of you. We’re going to make sure your health care is protected,” Rep. Andy Levin promised.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Dan Kildee, both Democrats, are leading the charge, which they say has bipartisan support.
“This could be a really big problem,” Kildee said.
PFAS has been linked to health problems like high cholesterol, fibroid disease, high blood pressure during pregnancy and certain types of cancer. That list of conditions could grow as more research is conducted on the chemicals’ effects.
“The science is catching up with everybody and that includes the VA,” Kildee said, adding that the agency has so far welcomed changes to better serve military members and their families.
He and Stabenow are still working on a plan to stop future exposure and health risks. They and other Democrats want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt stricter standards for PFAS in drinking water and have demanded that the Department of Defense clean up contaminated areas.
“I think this is a huge issue and the quicker we get at it, the better we’ll be in the long run,” Kildee said.
He said he has set up a meeting with the director of the EPA to discuss water standards.