EWG applauds Congress for tackling ‘forever chemicals’ in National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Working Group applauds Congress for including several provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, for fiscal year 2023 to tackle the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. 

The NDAA is legislation that Congress passes each year to make changes to the policies and organization of U.S. defense agencies and to guide how military funding can be spent. The House and Senate have finalized text for the fiscal year 2023 NDAA. 

To tackle forever chemicals, the 2023 NDAA includes provisions that will:

  • Phase out military purchases of personal protective firefighting equipment containing PFAS
  • Instruct the DOD to award prizes for the development of PFAS-free protective gear 
  • Require the DOD to publish regular updates about PFAS-related research
  • Provide $20 million for an ongoing study on the impact of PFAS on defense communities’ health, conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry  
  • Require the DOD to identify critical uses of PFAS and report on efforts to buy items without PFOA and PFOS, the two most notorious PFAS
  • Provide $1.2 billion for cleaning up contaminated military sites and $11 million for PFAS-related research. 

“These provisions represent significant steps toward addressing PFAS contamination at military facilities and exposure to military communities and families,” said Jay Lucey, EWG legislative director. “We applaud Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and  James Inhofe (R-Okla.) for making PFAS a priority.” 

Reps. Smith and Rogers are chair and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. Sens. Reed and Inhofe are chair and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Phasing out military purchases of firefighting equipment containing PFAS will have an immediate positive influence on the marketplace for PFAS-free protective gear for firefighters and first responders,” said Lucey.

PFAS chemicals have been confirmed at more than 400 DOD installations, and hundreds more sites may be contaminated. Studies show that exposure to very low levels of PFAS can increase the risk of cancer, harm fetal development and reduce vaccine effectiveness.

PFAS are known as “forever chemicals,” because they build up in our blood and organs, and do not break down in the environment.

Lucey added, “Congress continues to make progress addressing the PFAS contamination crisis in the annual defense spending bill, thanks to the dogged bipartisan efforts of members of Congress from around the country.

“EWG applauds the work of Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.).

“We are also grateful to Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.),” Lucey said.

The NDAA will be brought to the full House and Senate this December, marking the 62nd consecutive year this bipartisan legislation has passed Congress and been signed into law.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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