The state Department of Health wants to hire new staff — including epidemiologists, chemists, and toxicologists — to start a new environmental health effort, according to Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.
Levine revealed the planned hires at a House Appropriations hearing Monday. The department is asking for $199 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, matching the governor’s proposal.
A large amount of this funding will go to fighting exposure from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or man-made chemicals used on military bases and airports as a flame retardant.
“There has been large scale contamination of drinking water near military bases particularly in the southeast,” Levine told the committee.
The new personnel will cooperate with the federal government and other state agencies to tackle PFAS contamination. The department is seeking $1.4 million for the new hires.