Read the full article by Breanna Francis (Martinsburg Journal)

“MARTINSBURG — Earlier this year, West Virginia leadership, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., began posing questions about local per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, exposure in the Eastern Panhandle and the possible impact it could have on people’s health should COVID-19 be contracted.

Leadership ultimately urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to conduct research on the potential effects of PFAS exposure and COVID-19 infection.

‘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,’ Manchin and the other senators wrote. ‘As our country continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you and the leadership of agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services 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.’

While answers to these specific concerns haven’t yet been shared, a local effort is being made to continue addressing the fallout from a PFAS leak in Berkeley County from years prior as leadership at the 167th Airlift Wing said environmental engineers are continuing to work on identifying PFAS environmental impacts.

‘Our environmental engineers here at the Wing are working with the environmental restoration team at the National Guard Bureau as we move through the CERCLA process,’ Emily Beightol-Deyerle, SMSgt, superintendent of public affairs for the 167th, said. ‘Currently, we are awaiting the final report from an Expanded Site Inspection. The NGB contracted with Parsons, a Utah-based company with wide-ranging environmental capabilities, to conduct the environmental site inspection. An initial site inspection was concluded in 2018 with recommendations to further investigate eight of 10 areas of concern — areas where aqueous firefighting foam, or AFFF, was potentially discharged on our base in the past.’

According to Beightol-Deyerle, drilling for the ESI began in September 2019, and a number of soil borings, surface soil, surface water, ground water and storm water have been sampled and tested as part of the ESI.

‘The goal of the ESI is to augment data that was collected in the SI,’ Beightol-Deyerle said. ‘Determine if there are any up-gradient sources that may be contributing to PFAS mass in groundwater and to assess potential PFAS migration pathways from our installation to down-gradient receptors. The ESI final report will be public record.’

Similar PFAS examinations began last year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry initiated a study on citizens, specifically near the Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base, in hopes of understanding the impact a chemical spill in the drinking water has had on citizens in the area…”