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Persistent Pollutants

US military spending bill would phase out some PFAS procurement

by Cheryl Hogue
July 25, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 29


Photo shows US Air Force Staff Sergeant Johanie Ramirez standing on carpet next to an uphostered chair checking a drawer in a dormitory.
Credit: US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Timothy Moore
The US military would cease buying carpet and upholstered furniture containing PFAS, under House-passed legislation.

The US government would lower its market demand for products containing persistent fluorinated compounds under a bill the House of Representatives passed July 21. A provision in the bill, which will set military spending for fiscal 2021 (H.R. 6395), would require the Defense Department to cease purchasing certain products containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are widely used for nonstick coatings and to impart stain- and water-resistance to materials. The military procurement policy would cover cookware, personal care products such as dental floss and sunscreen, carpeting, and upholstery. The bill would also require the military to meet state cleanup requirements for two widespread PFAS contaminants—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)—if those standards are stronger than federal ones. PFOA and PFOS contamination of water and soil at and near military facilities stems primarily from former use of fire-fighting foams containing the chemicals. The Senate version of the legislation (S. 4049) does not contain these two PFAS provisions. Their fate depends on negotiations between the chambers in coming weeks.


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