U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) introduced new, bipartisan legislation last month that would promote the creation of educational courses for physicians regarding the health impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The legislation, the Physician Education for PFAS Health Impacts Act, would establish a grant program within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund the creation of training and education courses and materials for physicians on the health effects of PFAS and best practices for caring for patients who have been exposed to PFAS.
PFAS have been found in private drinking water wells across the country. PFAS are also found in soil, food sources, packaging, and other sources. It has been reported that more than 600 communities in at least 43 states are dealing with PFAS exposure.
PFAS have been associated with a variety of adverse human health effects, including birth defects, various forms of cancer, and immune system dysfunction.
“As we discover more communities throughout the United States have been exposed to PFAS chemicals, it’s critical that we prioritize research and resources to understand what that means for their health and well-being,” Shaheen says. “This legislation would help empower physicians with the information and resources they need to provide the best care possible to those who’ve been exposed to these dangerous chemicals.”
The Shaheen-Rounds legislation has been endorsed by the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the Endocrine Society, the Environmental Working Group, the Green Science Policy Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“We are still learning about the full range of the effects of PFAS chemicals on the human body,” Rounds says. “As we learn more, we will be better able to diagnose PFAS-related illnesses and treat symptoms. The grant program created in our legislation will provide resources so physicians can better understand PFAS chemicals.”
Read the full text of the bill.