Sinema to U.S. Defense Department: Do More to Protect Servicemembers from Dangerous ‘Forever Chemicals’

Sep 20, 2022

Senator and bipartisan colleagues pressed the U.S. Defense Department to act more urgently in addressing testing and cleanup of dangerous “forever chemicals,” such as PFAS 
“Forever chemicals”—including PFAS – have been found around Arizona military installations including Luke Air Force Base, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, and can increase the risk of cancer and harm the immune system, among other negative health effects

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema pressed the U.S. Department of Defense to act with more urgency when addressing testing and cleanup of dangerous “forever chemicals,” such as Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which have put at serious risk the lives and health of Arizona servicemembers.
PFAS has been detected in the groundwater near Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, and the grounds of the decommissioned Williams Air Force Base in Maricopa County.
“Dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ pose serious health threats to Arizona servicemembers, military families, and communities surrounding military bases. The Defense Department needs to do more and urgently address PFAS contamination to protect the health and safety of Arizonans and our military communities,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
In the bipartisan letter, Sinema and her colleagues underscore the Department of Defense’s responsibility to place greater emphasis on addressing these dangerous pollutants that continue to negatively impact the health and safety of Arizona servicemembers, military families, and defense communities. The Senators urge the Defense Department to develop requirements-based plans, policies, and programs – as well as increase the Defense Department’s annual budget requests to address PFAS-related activities to match Congressional urgency.
PFAS – also known as “forever chemicals” – are dangerous pollutants contaminating drinking water sources of military bases across the United States due to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used by the military. Studies have shown that PFAS exposure may negatively affect the growth and learning of infants, increase the risk of cancer, and harm the immune system, among other adverse health effects.
Several sites across Arizona – highly correlated with the location of military bases – have PFAS contamination, specifically the City of Tucson which currently has one of the worse unaddressed contaminations. Sinema has repeatedly called on the Administration to boost resources to protect Arizona communities and the environment from PFAS contamination – specifically to bolster PFAS research, enhance protections, and resources supporting testing and cleanup.
Click HERE to read the bipartisan letter.
Sinema’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs law that she co-authored, negotiated, and led into passage with Republican Senator Rob Portman (Ohio) made a historic $15 billion investment for lead replacement and $10 billion to address “forever chemicals” contamination – a key multi-million dollar investment for communities like Tucson to clean up contamination from these dangerous chemicals. This year alone, Arizona will receive $109 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to address clean and drinking water systems, update wastewater infrastructure, and help clean-up water contaminants like PFAS in communities across Arizona.