A Portsmouth mother's persistence paid off, as her testimony before a Senate hearing about Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contamination at military installation led to a push from Sen. Maggie Hassan for better communication.

PFAS are widely-used chemicals at bases (including the former Pease Air Force Base), that take a long time to break down, according to the EPA. They have been found in the blood of people and animals all over the world, and are present at low levels in various food products and in the environment.

The EPA says that scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.

Andrea Amico, the mother of three children, founded a group called Testing for Pease after she said her husband and two oldest children were directly exposed to contaminated drinking water while working and attending daycare. She worked to bring attention to the issue and found a need for better communication.

“Impacted communities would like to see improved relationships with local…restoration advisory boards and restoration advisory committees focused on trust and collaboration," Amico said during the hearing. "One suggestion I would have for [the Department] is to include some impacted community members as part of training, and to give DOD some guidance on how to best work with communities."

Hassan was joined by Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Tom Carper (D-DE) in a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, calling on the Department of Defense to improve communications.

“We urge you to solicit and incorporate input from community leaders and organizations as the Department improves [restoration advisory boards] and [restoration advisory committees], and to listen to the priorities of those impacted as the Department carries out its statutorily-mandated efforts to keep communities across our nation safe from PFAS,” the senators wrote in their letter.

During the hearing, Amico said the Department of Defense needs to host routine listening sessions with local communities, improve transparency by allowing more access to exposure data, and improve relations with local Restoration Advisory Boards and Restoration Advisory Committees.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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