Does This Re­mind You of Agent Or­ange?

The Pilot News - The Review - - News -

VET­ER­ANS POST by Freddy Groves

In the 1960s, the Navy, along with a civil­ian man­u­fac­turer, de­vel­oped a flammable liq­uid-fuel fire­fight­ing foam called Aqueous film-form­ing foam (AFFF) that the Navy be­gan us­ing in 1967. In the 1970s, the man­u­fac­turer had con­cerns about the chem­i­cal be­ing found in hu­mans at toxic lev­els.

In the 1980s, the Air Force be­gan re­search into tox­i­c­ity in rats. In the 1990s, the Army Corps of Engi­neers said the foam was haz­ardous, and a Navy study de­ter­mined that AFFF was toxic. In 2011, the De­part­ment of De­fense fi­nally is­sued a hu­man health and en­vi­ron­men­tal risk alert. In 2018, the DOD sent a note to Congress about us­ing an al­ter­na­tive foam. This year, the EPA re­leased an ac­tion plan. The Navy will be­gin us­ing a new AFFF for­mu­late in 2020.

The gears of gov­ern­ment grind slowly ...

If they knew in the 1970s that the chem­i­cal was toxic, what took so long? Pease Air Force Base is an ex­am­ple. Pease closed in 1991 and the wa­ter was first tested in 2014. Work­ers who had been at the base were dy­ing at an ac­cel­er­ated rate, a can­cer clus­ter. Com­mu­nity-wide test­ing in 2015 showed that ev­ery­one had el­e­vated lev­els of PFAS. The re­sult: The chem­i­cals in the foam, called per- and polyflu­o­roalkyl sub­stances (PFAS), got into the ground­wa­ter and wells. Peo­ple were drinking it.

Once in­tro­duced, those chem­i­cals stay put. They’re called For­ever Chem­i­cals be­cause they never go away. Stud­ies in­di­cate that they can cause can­cer a decade later, in­crease choles­terol, in­ter­fere with preg­nancy and more.

If you served at any mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tion since the 1960s, look on­line for “SSEHRI PFAS Con­tam­i­na­tion Site Tracker” and find a chart show­ing the lo­ca­tions of PFOA and PFAS sites. It cur­rently has 210 sites listed. Search on­line for the En­vi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group PFAS map called PFAS Con­tam­i­na­tion in the U.S. To keep up with news on PFAS, book­mark https:// pfaspro­ject.com.

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