Read the full article by Tom Perkins (The Guardian)
“Dangerous levels of toxic PFAS are contaminating water supplies in areas around at least 12 military bases, new Department of Defense testing has revealed, drawing concern from public health advocates that the DoD is not doing enough to protect the public.
The data released this week by the military shows levels for five kinds of PFAS compounds at what Scott Faber, vice-president of government affairs for Environmental Working Group, characterized as ‘extremely high’ levels, and he said they present a health threat to residents living nearby.
‘You can only hope now that people know and are finding alternative sources of water because those are shockingly high levels of PFAS,’ he added.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 chemicals used across dozens of industries to make products resistant to water, stains and heat. Though the compounds are highly effective, they are also linked to cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, decreased immunity, liver problems and a range of other serious diseases.
They are called ‘forever chemicals’ due to their longevity in the environment.
The military’s firefighters use aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, which contains extremely high levels of PFAS, in training exercises and emergencies. Though AFFF is effective, it has led to widespread contamination around bases and airports, and Congress just mandated the military check for PFAS pollution at 700 facilities while earmarking $571m for cleanup, though observers say the cost will likely be much higher.
Meanwhile, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act mandates that the defense department phase out AFFF and use safer alternatives already on the market.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set an advisory health standard of 70 ppt for PFOS and PFOA, two types of PFAS used in the foam, though that may soon be lowered, and some states have already set much lower standards.
Levels of PFOS in groundwater around Whidbey Island NAS near Seattle in the Puget Sound topped 4,700 ppt, while eight sites exceeded the EPA’s advisory levels. Meanwhile, levels for three other PFAS compounds that the department tested for topped 1,150 ppt, and though no federal standard for those compounds exists, many exceeded limits some states have set.
In a statement, the DoD said it has since 2016 provided bottled water and filtration systems or connected residences to municipal water lines in locations where it has found PFAS contamination.”…