Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) wrote today to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar calling for the release of the study on PFAS, a chemical formerly used at military installations such as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Last week, Turner wrote to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt calling for the release of the study after Politico reported the EPA was blocking it. Today, Turner received a letter from Pruitt that declared HHS has the authority to release this study, but did not deny the EPA had previously sought to block its release.

“Administrator Pruitt’s letter made it clear that the EPA is not currently blocking the release of the study on PFAS, although it did not indicate whether it had sought to block this release previously,” said Turner. “Now that Administrator Pruitt has said HHS does have the authority to release this study, I’m calling on Secretary Azar to do so as soon as possible. The release of this study is a public health and safety issue for every community with a military installation in it, including mine.”

Below is the text of Turner’s letter to Azar:

“I understand the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) recently completed a study regarding Per- and Prolyfluroalkul Substances (PFAS). The findings of this study must be published without delay. This information is vital to informing Americans as to the dangers of exposure to these toxins.  

On May 14th, Politico reported the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sought to block the publication of this study. I wrote to Administrator Pruitt about this report and he assured me that the HHS ATSDR has the authority to release its findings. I have attached his response for your review.

As I indicated to Administrator Pruitt, my community of Dayton, Ohio is anchored by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Beyond being the largest Air Force Base in the world, Wright-Patt is on the leading edge of the fight against our nation’s enemies. Our air base, like many others around the nation, continues to deal with the detection of PFAS in our groundwater threatening our municipal supply.

To date, my community’s leaders have rallied with Wright-Patt on this issue. PFAS were first discovered in groundwater monitoring wells in December 2015. We have acted according to the EPA’s 2016 lifetime health advisory of 70 part per trillion of PFAS in drinking water.

If this study finds, as reported, that this is no longer an accurate level of safety for our water, Congress and our constituents need to know immediately so we can begin to address it. Congress has already directed the end of using these chemicals on our military bases, but at least 126 military installations have detected PFAS in their water. This is a matter of public health and safety for each of these communities.

I expect that HHS’ participation in today’s National Leadership Summit with the DoD, EPA, and other federal and local partners will provide recommendations for addressing PFAS. I request that you notify me of these recommendations as soon as possible.

I trust you appreciate the urgency of my request and look forward to working with you on this issue in the future.”