Press Release

As New Yorkers Continue To Suffer Due To PFAS Contamination, Schumer, Gillibrand Announce That After Their Push, $20 Million To Study The Health Effects Of PFAS Water Contamination Passes Senate

Jun 22, 2018

Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that the recently passed Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes $20 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a public health assessment for sites affected by polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. Specifically, $10 million is allocated to study the health effects caused by PFAS contamination in drinking water, and an additional $10 million is allocated to conduct health screenings for individuals exposed to the contamination. This public health assessment study would benefit individuals who may have been exposed to PFAS contamination, including residents in the City of Newburgh, Westhampton Beach, and Hoosick Falls.

“From Hoosick Falls to Newburgh to Suffolk County, numerous communities in New York State have had their water supplies poisoned by PFAS, and residents need and deserve to know how this will affect their health now and in the future,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why Senator Gillibrand and I fought so hard to include this $20 million authorization in the NDAA; this vital funding will enable the CDC to not only study the effects of PFAS but also conduct vital health screenings for those who have been exposed to contaminated water. I am elated this study is one step closer to being funded and will continue to fight for communities in New York and beyond whose water supplies were contaminated with these  toxic chemicals.”

“PFAS contaminated drinking water all over our state, and New Yorkers have the right to know exactly what that means for their health,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “That’s why I’ve been fighting for the CDC to conduct this necessary public health assessment. I’m very pleased that the funding for this critical study is now one step closer to becoming law, and I will continue to do everything I can to help the communities in New York and throughout the country that were exposed to these dangerous chemicals.”

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manufactured chemicals, including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), that are persistent in the environment and resist degradation. These toxic chemicals are often used to manufacture products like fabric protectors, firefighting foam, and stain repellents. They are common primary ingredients in the firefighting foam that was used at the Stewart Air National Guard Base near the City of Newburgh and the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach for training and fire-suppression exercises, according to state regulators. This has led state regulators to suspect the foam as a potential cause of the groundwater contamination in the City of Newburgh and Westhampton Beach. The water in Hoosick Falls was found to be contaminated with PFOA from plastics manufacturing.

Exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to certain cancers and other serious adverse health effects. Last year, Schumer and Gillibrand secured the authorization for this CDC-led study on the health effects of PFAS contamination in drinking water, groundwater, and other exposure sites. Gillibrand also pushed for the funding associated with the CDC study to be appropriated this year. In addition to funding for the CDC-led public health assessment, Schumer and Gillibrand ensured that this year’s Senate NDAA included a provision written by Gillibrand that authorizes the National Guard to treat and remediate PFAS chemicals in affected sites.