Congressman Kim, Congresswomen Dean and Torres Small Introduce Bill to Protect Military Children from PFAS Dangers

September 12, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Kim, Congresswomen Dean and Torres Small Introduce Bill to Protect Military Children from PFAS Dangers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03), Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04) and Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02) introduced the Protect Our Military Children Act, H.R. 4295, a bill that will require the Department of Defense to carry out testing of children living at military facilities to track levels of Perfluoroalkyl or Polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.

“The health risks of PFAS impact everyone in our community, but we need to look out for our most vulnerable; children who live at military facilities like Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst,” said Congressman Kim. “In order to bring real solutions to these PFAS issues, we need to determine the true scope of the problem. These testing programs will do just that and work to keep our children and communities safe.”

“PFAS contamination touches nearly everyone in America, and none more than the children of servicemembers living on or near military bases,” said Congresswoman Dean. “We know these chemicals are dangerous, but we need to find out exactly how dangerous – and then we must do everything we can to mitigate the health risks young people face. Our servicemembers sign up to protect us – and we must do the same for them and their children.”

“Our servicemembers joined the military to serve and protect their country. We owe them and their families safe water,” said Congresswoman Torres Small. “The Department of Defense has acknowledged that over 400 military bases could have water systems contaminated with PFAS, a chemical linked to learning and behavior defects in children and pediatric cancer. We already know that Holloman Air Force Base and Cannon Air Force Base, which are in and around my district, have ground water that is contaminated by PFAS. Military families are asked to sacrifice so much, the least we can do is provide resources to address potential health hazards, such as voluntary blood testing for children at risk of PFAS exposure. I’m proud that the Protect our Military Children Act takes this necessary step to give peace of mind to military families and ensures children of service members are not put in harm’s way when their parents are stationed on potentially PFAS-exposed military bases.”

PFAS chemicals are used in several basic industrial and household products, including the fire-fighting foam utilized by both civilian and military firefighters. The PFAS present in firefighting foam contaminates the groundwater on military bases and in surrounding communities. PFAS exposure has been linked to several health problems including testicular and kidney cancer, pre-eclampsia, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. 

The Protect our Military Children Act would require the Department of Defense (DoD) to put in place a pilot program to help quantify the size of the problem for America’s military children. The program would direct DoD to:

  • Provide blood testing services for children that currently live or have lived on military bases in the last ten years that have had exposure to PFAS.
  • Carry out an outreach program at military installations eligible for the program.
  • Provide congress with a summary of the results of the program, indicating the scope of child exposure on military installations.

“NMFA supports H.R. 4295 directing DoD to assess military kids’ exposure to PFAS substances via a pilot program,” said Karen Ruedisueli, Deputy Director, Government Relations for the National Military Family Association. “Recent revelations about toxic exposures in military housing and on military installations demand a public health response. This legislation is an important first step to determine the extent to which military children have been exposed to PFAS contamination on military installations. We appreciate the work of Congressman Kim, Congresswoman Dean and Congresswoman Torres Small on this issue and their support of military families”.

“There is no doubt that PFAS chemicals threaten the health of our children,” said Madeleine Foote, Deputy Legislative Director at the League of Conservation Voters. “As testing continues to demonstrate the large extent of PFAS pollution on and around military instillations, it is clear that our military families face a disproportionate risk from these toxic chemicals. Our military families already sacrifice so much and they should not have to worry that the water coming from their taps is poisoning their children. We greatly appreciate the leadership of Representatives Andy Kim, Xochitl Torres Small, and Madeleine Dean in introducing this important bill that will help us both better understand how these chemicals are affecting the children of military families, and contribute to the growing chorus to ban these chemicals, clean them up, and hold chemical companies accountable for the damage they have caused to our health and the environment.”

In addition to his introduction of the Protect Our Military Children Act, Congressman Kim has helped lead the fight on ensuring the Department of Defense stops using PFAS chemicals in their firefighting equipment. Earlier this year, Congressman Kim introduced the Safe Water for Military Families Act, H.R. 3226, a bill that will require the Department of Defense to transition to the use of firefighting foam that does not contain harmful PFAS chemicals. Portions of that bill were incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

Congressman Kim is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves the Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness and as a Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities.