June 29, 2020

Manchin Urges Research On Risks Of PFAS Exposure And Contracting COVID-19

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) led 19 Senators in urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct research on the potential effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure and COVID-19 infection.

The Senators said in part, “We write to express our concern about the potential risks that the novel coronavirus or “COVID-19” may pose for people who have been exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As our country continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you and the leadership of agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that the connection between PFAS exposure and COVID-19 is thoroughly examined so that individuals in communities impacted by PFAS can take precautions that are guided by scientific evidence.”

The Senators requested answers to the following questions:

  1. Does the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) or any other institute within NIH have plans to fund research to assess the interaction of PFAS exposure and COVID-19 and the COVID-19 risks for people who have been exposed to PFAS?
  2. Are ATSDR, CDC, NIH and other agencies within HHS capable of leveraging data already being collected on PFAS exposure via the Pease PFAS study, the National Multi-Site PFAS Study, ATSDR’s PFAS Exposure Assessments or other ongoing studies within the agencies to examine the relationship between PFAS exposure and COVID-19? If so, are these agencies capable of conducting antibody or other serological tests on willing voluntary participants within the PFAS studies, in a way that is sensitive to patients’ rights, to further examine the intersection between exposure to these chemicals and COVID-19? If so, we strongly urge CDC to lead such a multi-agency analysis.
  3. Do the agencies need additional resources to support research and surveillance of the interaction between PFAS exposure and COVID-19, beyond the funds provided thus far through FY 2020 appropriations and COVID-19 response legislation?

Read the letter in full here.