Read the full article by Kip Hill (The Spokesman-Review)

“Researchers at the Indiana University are offering to foot the water testing bill for private well owners near the site of chemical contamination at Fairchild Air Force Base.

The study, backed by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, is intended to give chemists and government officials a better idea of how per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known by the acronym PFAS, compounds found in firefighting foam used on the base for decades, can infiltrate groundwater.

‘Our goal really is to build these, basically, trained machine learning methods to try to predict where around the sites you might find the worst levels of contamination,’ said Jacquelin MacDonald Gibson, chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupation Health at Indiana University’s School of Public Health, and the study’s lead researcher.

Spokane County was selected because of the exposure at Fairchild, discovered in May 2017. Prolonged exposure to the chemicals, also used in the production of several common household items, have been linked in studies to health problems including high cholesterol, birth complications and some forms of cancer, according to the EPA.

Local public health officials have not ceased studying the movement of the chemicals in groundwater, even as Airway Heights shifted to using Spokane municipal water and several surrounding governments and organizations filed lawsuits alleging negligence from the U.S. Department of Defense. Previous studies have shown contamination levels in wells to the east and northeast of Airway Heights, said Mike LaScuola, an environmental health specialist at Spokane Regional Health District who’s been working on the contamination.”…