Read the full article by Erin Jordan (The Gazette)

“CEDAR RAPIDS — The Eastern Iowa Airport is considering buying the property of a family whose well is contaminated by toxic chemicals linked to firefighting foam used at airports since the 1960s.

The airport is negotiating with Paul and Nikki Hynek, of 3400 Walford Rd., to possibly buy their property or provide the homeowners with a new well, according to Airport Director Marty Lenss.

Tests show the Hyneks’ well had more than three times the amount of per- and polyfluorinated substances — or PFAS — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had said was safe. Now the agency says no amount is safe.

Lenss isn’t certain the PFAS came from firefighting foam used at the airport, but it’s a strong possibility.

‘We absolutely have it. We absolutely have sprayed it in testing,’ he said of the foam. But since PFAS can be found in many other substances, including fertilizer, stain-resistant clothing, carpet, cleaning products, plastic, paints and some bio waste, ‘it’s difficult to identify the source in groundwater in general.’

Chemicals used to fight fuel fires

Minnesota-based 3M started manufacturing PFAS in the 1950s, putting the chemicals into several products, including Scotchgard fabric protector, the company reported.

The U.S. Navy and 3M created aqueous film-forming foam after 134 sailors were killed in a 1967 fire aboard an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam, Bloomberg reported. The PFAS in the foam helped cool and suppress liquid fuel fires.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires airports keep this foam on hand and test with it so firefighters are prepared for a plane fire. In previous decades, Cedar Rapids firefighters sprayed the foam in the grass as part of daily checks of the firetrucks, Lenss said.

But evolving science has shown even small amounts of PFAS may be harmful to humans. Studies with laboratory animals indicate the chemicals may harm growth and development and affect reproduction, thyroid function, the immune system and liver function, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

A new peer-reviewed Danish study shows exposure among pregnant women can lead to lower sperm count and quality in their children’s later life, the Guardian reported in October.

The FAA still mandates airports use the foam, although the agency has said it will certify a new PFAS-free foam in 2023. The Eastern Iowa Airport minimizes use of the foam by running training drills with just water and storing the foam in 5-gallon buckets on an aboveground trailer.” …