This is the latest chemical issue for groundwater contamination springing up at military bases everywhere over the past 18 months. If not already an issue at Camp Lejeune, it likely soon will be. Here’s what we found in recent articles that caught our eye:
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8, a chemical that for six decades was used by DuPont in the production of Teflon and other products. Research on people in West Virginia and Ohio who had consumed water contaminated by leaks from a nearby DuPont factory showed probable links between the chemical and six diseases, including kidney cancer. Cervera soon discovered that the very same chemical, as well as a related one, PFOS, had been found in drinking water in her area. Both were part of a larger class known as perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, “emerging contaminants” that were still being studied — and had yet to be regulated. And, according to public notices from the local water and sewer authorities, both had come from foam that was used to put out airplane fires and train soldiers at two nearby military bases — the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and a former naval air station at Willow Grove, now owned by the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. – (The Intercept, Dec 2015)
As you may recall, we recently profiled the Willow Grove site and noted this very issue. In recent months, the DOD has come out and said that it will begin testing at 664 military sites around the country for potential groundwater contamination that is coming from the use of this firefighting foam.
By the way, here’s a link to the AP article on that development.
This is another example where best intentions usually lead to unforeseen results. Here’s why the foam is so bad:
The sudsy liquid, dubbed “Aqueous Film-Forming Foam,” or AFFF, put out hydrocarbon fires more quickly and effectively than ever before by smothering them. Since it was developed, the military has been using huge quantities of the foam, which has been heralded for saving firefighters’ lives. Unfortunately, 3M’s miracle product also contained PFOS. And the other official formulation of the foam purchased by the Department of Defense contains “telomers,” compounds that can break down into PFOA and other PFCs. In addition to being linked to health problems, PFOA and PFOS stay in the human body for years and, unless they are removed, persist in the environment indefinitely. – (The Intercept, Dec 2015)
Of course, PFOAs are linked to some nasty stuff. It’s also proliferated around the world at bases and installations in other countries. Many of those folks are just waking up to the nightmare. At one area in Holland, most people didn’t even know about the dangers of PFOA. Their reaction, well, is obvious. When you read the following, I’m sure it will sound familiar to most of you at Lejeune and other bases:
“They’re pissed off,” said Paul Brooks, a physician from West Virginia who went to Holland and told people about the research that enabled epidemiologists to link PFOA to preeclampsia, ulcerative colitis, and two types of cancer, among other conditions. “They knew absolutely nothing about the links to disease, nothing,” said Brooks.
It would appear that there is a groundswell of activity now in regards to the public waking up to chemical contamination.
Are the DOD’s “chemical chickens” coming home to roost?
Were you a firefighter at a military installation in the US? Did you use this firefighting foam or know of others that may have been exposed to it? Let us know your stories and experiences as we uncover more about yet another deadly contaminant in base water supplies in the US.
- Funding deal requires Pentagon to report water contamination at bases