“Whitney Prieto was diagnosed last September with stage 2B triple negative breast cancer. She was 35, early in her pregnancy with twins and said she had no family history or genetic mutations that could make her especially susceptible to the serious disease.
Prieto said that she knew of six or seven classmates from Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, Florida, who were also diagnosed with uncommon cancers when she was diagnosed but that she now knows of about 20 — all at about the same time.
She said the types of cancer being diagnosed in her classmates, now in their 20s and 30s, raised a red flag, but particularly concerning was what she read in an article in the Military Times in April.
The article reported that wells used to monitor groundwater contaminants at nearby Patrick Air Force Base showed levels of chemicals from military firefighting foam higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considered safe.
Prieto is demanding the state find out if the test results and cancer rates among her and her former classmates are connected…
The chemicals found in the groundwater wells at Patrick Air Force Base go by the acronyms PFOS and PFOA. Both are suspected of harming development in children, interfering with hormones or cholesterol levels, affecting the immune system or increasing the risk of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
But the situation in Satellite Beach is not clear cut. The EPA’s recommended limit for PFOS and PFOA is specific to drinking water, but the tests at Patrick Air Force Base involved groundwater at the base.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection told ABC News that drinking water systems in Brevard County, which includes Satellite Beach, tested negative for PFOS and PFOA…
One of Prieto’s classmates, Julie Greenwalt, was diagnosed with cancer of the appendix two years ago. A radiation oncologist, she is now recovered.
‘I definitely think it’s just so suspicious that all of us got diagnosed within a couple of years of each other, which means we were all exposed around the same time,’ she told ABC News.
Greenwalt said she’s become the face of residents’ concerns that there is a connection between PFAS and cancer, and that since the Military Times article, people have called her at her clinic saying they want to get their own water or blood tested. She said one resident was going door-to-door with the article to share it with neighbors who don’t use social media…
Dangerous PFAS levels have been identified in at least 190 communities around the country and in tests at 126 military facilities, according to information compiled by researchers at Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group, leading to calls for the government to regulate and clean up the chemicals.
For example, all 28 groundwater wells tested at Patrick Air Force Base, near where Prieto lives, showed potentially harmful levels of PFOS and PFOA, ranging from 71 parts per trillion — just slightly over the EPA’s acceptable limit — to as high as 4.3 million parts per trillion…
In Satellite Beach, Prieto and Greenwalt are speaking to more than 1,400 residents and past residents about their concerns that groundwater contamination is somehow related to their cancers or cancer in their family. The state environmental department and health agency are collecting information from residents to determine the next steps and the city has agreed to test more groundwater wells for PFOS and PFOA.
Prieto said she is pushing to get their story out and make sure any connection between water contamination and cancer in the community isn’t pushed under the rug.”
Read the full article by Stephanie Ebbs