Read the full article by Sophia Schmidt (Delaware Public Media)

“New Castle area residents exposed to a toxic group of chemicals are learning how much remains in their bodies.

Residents around the New Castle Air National Guard base were exposed to public drinking water contaminated with chemicals used in firefighting foam on the base.

Now some are finding out how much of these long-lasting chemicals — known as PFAS— they have in their blood, as part of a study of eight similarly exposed communities across the country the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started last year. 

Some studies in humans with PFAS exposure have shown the chemicals may interfere with the body’s natural hormones, increase cholesterol levels, affect the immune system and increase the risk of some cancers, according to the CDC. The chemicals, which are used in consumer products from food wrappers to carpets, are ubiquitous but not well understood. 

The blood of New Castle residents who participated in the study contains three specific PFAS chemicals at levels several times the national average, according to aggregate results released Thursday. Blood levels of three other PFAS chemicals were found to be similar to national averages. 

The study found the average concentration of the chemical PFHxS in the participants’ blood to be almost 17 times the national average established in a 2015/2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The participants’ average blood level of PFOS was more than four times the national average, while their blood level of PFOA was just over three times the national average. 

The more than two hundred New Castle participants are receiving their individual results, including how they compare to others who were tested, by mail. A sample letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that scientists do not know what the levels mean for participants’ health…”