Pentagon releases full scope of PFO contamination at bases - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Pentagon releases full scope of PFO contamination at bases

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WASHINGTON -

In a report released last month, the Pentagon found the water at or around 126 military installations contains potentially harmful levels of perfluorinated compounds, which have been linked to cancers and development delays for fetuses and infants. 

Perfluorinated compounds are man-made chemicals, which can be used to make items heat or water resistant. You can find them in everyday household, food and clothing items and take out food wrappers. 

At military bases, like Fairchild Air Force Base in Airway Heights, they are used in a concentrated foam to put out aircraft fires. 

In May 2017, wells in Airway Heights were found to have been contaminated with firefighting foam contaminants used between 1970 and 2016. This crisis impacted at least 9,000 people within the affected area.  The Air Force brought in bottled water to hand out, and the City of Airway Heights flushed the wells of nearly 25 million gallons of water.

RELATED: Airway Heights Water Crisis Update: Air Force engineers installing filtration systems at homes

Fairchild wasn't the only military installation with the issue. Working within new guidelines established by the EPA in 2016, the Department of Defense decided to test all of its locations to comply with new standards.

In all, 25 Army bases; 50 Air Force bases, 49 Navy or Marine Corps bases and two Defense Logistics Agency sites have tested at higher than acceptable levels for the compounds in either their drinking water or groundwater sources. Additionally, DoD tested 2,668 groundwater wells both on and in the surrounding off-base community and found that 61 percent of them tested above the EPA’s recommended levels.

DoD has already spent $200 million studying and testing its water supply, and also providing either filters, alternate wells or bottled water to address contamination.

The DoD is also working to phase out the firefighting foam with replacements that do not contain the harmful chemicals. 

The DoD released the full list of installations affected and will be working with the Centers for Disease Control on a study of the potential long-term effects of exposure to perfluorinated compounds. 

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