Read the full article by Emma Cotton (VT Digger)

“For the second time in two weeks, a volunteer group has found high levels of toxic chemicals in water bodies near the Vermont Air National Guard base, this time in a popular recreation area in Winooski. 

The group, called The Vermont PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition, announced Monday that they had found troubling amounts of PFAS, a class of chemicals known to cause harmful health effects, in the Gilbrook Reservoir, which connects to the Winooski River and Lake Champlain. 

Last week, the same group announced that they found evidence of the chemical class in a popular fishing spot in the Winooski River called the ‘Salmon Hole.’

Manufacturers often use PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, to make nonstick, heat-resistant and water-resistant products. The chemicals take a long time to break down and are often called “forever chemicals” for that reason. 

The chemicals, used by a Teflon manufacturer in Bennington, caused pollution that has contaminated drinking water for hundreds of residents. Soldiers at the Air National Guard base trained for decades using firefighting foam, which also contained the chemicals. 

The same firefighting foam has been linked to PFAS contamination on military bases around the United States. 

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has been slow to regulate the chemical class, and the state currently regulates five out of more than 4,000 types of the chemical, though the state often tests for more than those five. Vermont’s limit for those five compounds in drinking water is 20 parts per trillion. 

Volunteers from the environmental coalition collected samples from the reservoir and river, then sent them to Cyclopure, a company based in Skokie, Illinois, for evaluation. 

Cyclopure’s test evaluates samples for 17 types of PFAS. In samples from Salmon Hole, the company found levels of state-regulated PFAS to be 40.5 parts per trillion, Seven Days first reported. When all of the PFAS chemicals were included, that number rose to 145.2 parts per trillion. 

In the Gilbrook Reservoir, tests found a total of 84.3 parts per trillion, with concentrations totaling 37.8 ppt for the five state-regulated PFAS compounds, according to the group. 

Winooski officials said they were not aware of the environmental group’s test results.

‘We haven’t received any data related to PFAS findings so have no statement to make,’ Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott said. 

State officials are looking into the results from the environmental group, said Peter Walke, commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, who noted that the company’s test methodology is not certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.”…