Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to announce her PFAS Accountability Act, legislation that would make it easier for victims of significant PFAS contamination to sue PFAS manufacturers and to be awarded medical monitoring for early detection and treatment of diseases associated with PFAS exposure.
PFAS chemicals are widespread contaminants found in a variety of consumer products, various industrial applications, and firefighting foam. They are linked to an array of health problems, including developmental delays; changes in liver, immune system, and thyroid function; and increased risk of some cancers.
“PFAS are dangerous, carcinogenic substances and the companies that knowingly manufactured them for years must be held accountable,” said Senator Gillibrand. “My PFAS Accountability Act would help ensure that people who were or are being exposed to high levels of PFAS have legal recourse. And because PFAS-related illnesses can take years to develop, this bill also makes sure that victims can receive long-term medical monitoring as part of their remedies. I’m determined to get it passed.”
Specifically, Gillibrand’s legislation would:
- Establish a cause of action under the Toxic Substances Control Act for those who have been significantly exposed to PFAS against manufacturers. An individual would be considered significantly exposed if they: (1) demonstrate that they were present in an area where PFAS was released for at least 1 year; or (2) get blood testing done that demonstrates PFAS exposure.
- Make it easier for courts to award medical monitoring for victims of significant PFAS exposure: A court would be able to award medical monitoring if, as a result of significant exposure, the individual or class has suffered an increased risk of developing a disease associated with exposure to PFAS and there is a reasonable basis for the individual or class to undergo periodic medical monitoring for diseases associated with PFAS exposure. Medical monitoring programs for victims of hazardous exposures are used for early detection and treatment of adverse health conditions related to the exposure.
- Incentivize industry to fund PFAS safety research. A court would be permitted to order new or additional epidemiological, toxicological, or other studies or investigations of new PFAS as part of a medical monitoring remedy.
Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA) leads this bill in the House.
The following organizations have endorsed the PFAS Accountability Act: The American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Waterkeeper Alliance, Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), EarthJustice, Riverkeeper, the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), Environmental Advocates NY, and the Buxmont Coalition for Safe Water