Read the full article by Pat Elder (Military Poisons)

“A 2013 study by Yamaguchi, et. al. set out to examine what caused high blood levels of PFOS and PFOA. They examined 307 men and 301 women (aged 16−76 years) living in 15 prefectures in Japan.

The frequency of intake of boiled fish in broth, sliced raw fish and coastal fish showed significant positive correlations with PFOS concentrations in blood. These findings suggest that the concentrations of PFOS in blood are mainly associated with fish consumption.

That was ten years ago. PFAS in fish is a new inconvenient truth.

Poisoned fish at Kadena Air Base

The Hija River drains Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. In 2016 fish were found in the river with PFOS levels from 22,000 ppt to 111,000 ppt.  According to the research, the average PFOS value of 15 samples of fish analyzed in the Hija River basin was 64,000 ppt. The survey was conducted by Shuhei Tanaka, an associate professor at Kyoto University, and Hironori Suzuki, a researcher at the Public Works Research Institute.

Sword Tail           49,000 ppt to 102,000 ppt
Pearl Danios      43,000 ppt to 111,000 ppt
Guppy                  35,000 ppt to 48,000 ppt
Tilapia                   22,000 ppt to 100,000 ppt

The survey also included these results in fish:

N-EtFOSE            584,000 ppt
6:2 FTS                190,000
8:2 FTS                7,800

N-EtFOSE is a 12-carbon chain PFAS compound and it could be in your Teriyaki Salmon. The compound increases liver weight in laboratory animals. We don’t know much about it, but we should.

In Japan a variety of PFAS compounds contaminate  bream, carp, crab, filefish, flounder, jack mackerel, lugworm, medaka, mudskipper fish, mussel, oyster, porpoises, sandfish, sardines, sea bass, shark, and trout.

Birds and both wild and domestic terrestrial organisms contaminated with PFAS substances include brown hawk owl, carrion crow, cattle, cattle egret, chicken, common kestrel, cormorant, dog, eagle, Eurasian sparrowhawk, goat, great egret, gull, horse, Japanese sparrowhawk, large-bill crow, mallard duck, northern goshawk, pig, pintail duck, raccoon dog, swan, turtle, Ural owl and wild rats.

Porpoises from Hokkaido had average total PFAS concentrations of 573,000 ppt in their livers. 

It makes sense that porpoises have such high concentrations of PFAS in their livers. Porpoises feed on fish like herring, cod, whiting, mackerel, and sardines – and they are all known to be contaminated with PFAS. 

The carcinogens never go away.

When the porpoise dies, the PFAS remains. Many aquatic creatures feed on PFAS-laden detritus, the particulate organic material which includes the bodies or fragments of bodies of dead organisms and fecal material, sometimes augmented by human fecal matter discharged by the Navy’s wastewater treatment plants. The Navy is free from meaningful environmental oversight in Maryland, Hawaii, Germany, Japan, and everywhere else. They can do whatever they want – and so can the Air Force.

The Washington, D.C. area

We have a human health crisis that is not being addressed in Japan and most of the U.S., although some states are beginning to wake up to this threat. Maryland is not one of them. My state has one fish advisory for PFOS and that covers Piscataway Creek which drains Joint Base Andrews. I tested the water in the creek as it flows from the runway at Joint Base Andrews in September of 2021 and found 2,781.8 ppt of total PFAS in the water with 894.7 ppt of PFOS.  The Maryland Department of the Environment reported total levels of PFAS at 3,193 ppt in the creek.

Piscataway Creek empties into the tidal Potomac River 8 miles south of Washington. Maryland says it is OK for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant to consume three Largemouth Bass a month from the creek. Everybody else can eat the fish, too. The Largemouth Bass is a favorite of charter boat parties and fishers on both sides of the river.

Maryland tested the fish and reported 94,200 ppt  in its filet. Meanwhile, the U.S. federal government says it plans to set a mandatory level for PFOS and PFOA at 4 ppt in drinking water while it allows the dangerously contaminated fish to be consumed.  A smallmouth bass in the Potomac above Washington was found with  574,000 ppt in its blood.

What the Pentagon is saying

We can gain a sense of the psychological campaign employed by U.S. Forces Japan and everywhere else. See how the Air Force responds to this upsetting Stars and Stripes story from February 3, 2023, ‘Blood tests show elevated PFAS levels in people living downstream from Tokyo base.’

‘The Air Force is committed to the well-being of the community and will continue to coordinate with the government of Japan to remain compliant with international obligations, Yokota spokesman 1st Lt. Danny Rangel said in an email Wednesday.

‘Yokota Air Base continues to conduct operations with careful consideration for the health and safety of our community. Aqueous film forming foam systems on Yokota are out of service,’ Rangel added. ‘A centralized contract is scheduled to remove these systems and substances over the next few years,’ he said.

Yokota’s water supply is tested on a regular basis to ensure it is meeting safe drinking water requirements, Rangel said. ‘The installation publishes an annual drinking water quality report.

Often, the Air Force does not comment on these things so it is impressive Star and Stripes would receive an email response from the 1st Lieutenant who immediately sited compliance with ‘international obligations.’

This is laughable. The Air Force is only compliant with itself!

Kunitoshi Sakurai, Professor Emeritus, Okinawa University is a joint representative of the Liaison Committee to Protect Citizen’s Lives from PFAS Contamination. The name of the organization says it all! Sukurai understands the gravity of the situation. 

Through the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, he says, the U.S. dictates obligations to the vassal state of Japan. Professor Sakurai says the first step toward remediation must be to identify the source of the contamination. He explains, ‘The obstacle is the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement SOFA signed in 1960.’  He says on-site inspections can only be conducted when approved by the US Forces.

The Air Force refuses to admit to its criminal behavior, and it steadfastly denies the requests of Japanese authorities to gain access to installations for environmental testing.

1st Lt. Rangel explained that the Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) systems on Yokota are out of service and that the base plans to remove these systems and substances over the next few years. Could the 1st Lieutenant share the plan to remove these substances from the perpetually contaminated soil, groundwater, and surface water?

Civil authorities in Japan and the U.S. have followed the U.S. military’s lead by focusing attention on the contaminated drinking water to protect public health. Certainly, the U.S. military knows the primary non-occupational route of exposure to PFAS is through the diet, although this truth is hidden from the public.  

It’s the fish!

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) estimates that fish and other seafood’  account for up to 86% of dietary PFAS exposure in adults.

This single fact should drive national responses toward protecting human health.

When confronted by communities contaminated with PFAS, the military points to PFAS levels in drinking water on base and in local communities that are well below the EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory of 70 ppt set in 2016. The EPA has since set a much lower ‘interim’ health advisory of .02 ppt for PFOS and .004 ppt for PFOA, but the military has ignored it.   

Many private well owners living near military installations may be consuming dangerous quantities of the toxins.

Municipal drinking water comprises just a small part of the PFAS that eventually makes it into our bodies. Groundwater and surface water are heavily contaminated with PFAS in and around most military bases. The toxins are mobile above and below the ground and they gradually find their way to the sea, poisoning life along the way. The seafood is making us much sicker than the treated water.

A little more on drinking water and other sources of military’s PFAS contamination

When we examine the publicly available data on the levels of PFAS in the drinking water at U.S. military installations in Japan it doesn’t seem like PFAS is that big a deal, at least compared to the food.

The Department of Defense says all its drinking water systems in the U.S. and around the world are under of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOA.

The military must allow truly independent third-party testing of drinking water on their bases in Japan.  

Installation, compound, and concentrations of PFAS in drinking water in ppt.

Camp Shields                  PFOS 17 PFOA 5.3
Tengan Pier                     PFOA .53
White Beach                   PFOS .43  PFOA .57
Sasebo                            PFOA 2.2
Yokosuka                       PFOS 3.3 PFOA 2.2
Atsugi                             PFOS 5.4  PFOA 3.0
Misawa                           PFOS 0  PFOA  0
Yokota                            All PFAS 28.8
Camp Zama                    PFOS + PFOA 2.3
Kadena                           PFOS 7.4  PFOA 2.7

These springs in Okinawa produce unfiltered water from the ground:

Aranakigaa Spring Okinawa 1,400 ppt. PFOA/PFOS
Yara Hijaga Spring Okinawa 2,100 ppt PFOA/PFOS

The DOD tells the world it is ‘identifying, evaluating, and addressing PFAS releases resulting from its activities and is committed to taking proactive actions to identify and eliminate unacceptable risks and impacts from PFAS releases.’  It sounds great, but they are the ones who decide what constitutes an acceptable risk.

PFAS are deadly. There is no acceptable risk of exposure.

The United States military has mastered the art of public propaganda. They’re on a mission and they’ve got this PFAS problem figured out. They understand that worldwide liability for poisoning people and the planet with these carcinogens reaches into the hundreds of billions of dollars, enough to threaten U.S. national security, as they see it.

The military has managed to convince nearly everyone the problem is contaminated drinking water, and its cause has been the use of PFAS compounds in firefighting foams. 

Their PFAS is poisoning us in lots of different ways. Our food, especially the seafood, is toxic. Our rivers and soil and air are contaminated. Our lungs breathe in the carcinogens. Our blood is contaminated.  Human breastmilk is toxic. Our babies are born poisoned, and they are fed contaminated breastmilk.

A study from Ehime Prefecture  showed an average level of PFOS at 232 ppt in breastmilk. The highest levels were recorded at 523 ppt.  The average Japanese baby has been consuming breastmilk with PFOS at a level 11,200 times over the American limit (.02) for drinking water. The other deadly compounds, especially PFOA, are also poisoning our babies. One Japanese baby drank her mother’s milk containing 170 ppt. This is 42,500 times over the EPA interim lifetime health advisory of .004 ppt for drinking water.

Our endocrine systems are under attack from the beginning of our lives! We’re having trouble fighting disease and cancers because of these chemicals.

Congress has required the DOD to stop buying PFAS-based foams by October 1, 2023, and stop using them entirely by October 1, 2024.  It’s good, but it only addresses one application of these versatile chemicals.

PFAS is used on bases in a host of applications. It is used in chrome plating operations, wire coating, wash racks for engine cleaning, and other applications. The landfills on U.S. military bases in Japan are extraordinarily toxic. Foams and filters caked with the carcinogens are buried with electronic equipment high in PFAS content. The toxic refuse is pulverized by the great bulldozers. Rain and snow create deadly liquid leachate below the ground. The chemicals enter the surficial aquifer and make their way to the deeper aquifer used for wells. Some migrate to surface waters where they poison aquatic life. Sometimes the leachate flows through pipes to wastewater treatment plants, but the result is the same.

The PFAS used on U.S. bases poison the air. Sludge beds and toxic sediment lining riverbeds are dried by the sun and lifted by the wind into the air, into our lungs, and into our living rooms.

Air stripping towers are increasingly being used to ‘clean’ wastewater generated from military and industrial sites. Air stripping is a process by which wastewater is brought into contact with air, so that toxins present in the liquid phase can be released and ‘carried away’ by the gas. Air stripping results in PFAS being released as aerosols, contaminating soil, groundwater, and surface water.

We’ll see how this impacts our health in Part 4.”