Majority of domestic US military sites leaking PFAS into environment

Envirotech Online | November 11, 2023

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"The United States, a nation that prides itself on security and public welfare, faces an internal environmental crisis of significant proportions. Recent reports have unveiled a disconcerting scenario wherein an array of U.S. Army bases have become inadvertent conduits of contamination, leaching hazardous chemicals into local water supplies. This crisis predominantly involves the pervasive infiltration of PFAS—Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—into the drinking water of communities neighbouring at least 245 military sites, as identified in a Department of Defence (DoD) report. The alarming part, however, is that these figures only represent about one-third of the investigations needed, suggesting the potential for a much wider impact. 

PFAS compounds, encompassing a class of about 9,000 distinct chemicals, are notoriously persistent in the environment—earning them the epithet of 'forever chemicals.' They are prevalent in a plethora of consumer goods, valued for their ability to repel oil, water, and stains. However, these attributes also mean PFAS do not easily degrade, leading to their accumulation in the environment and living organisms, including humans. The health implications are grave, with PFAS exposure being linked to cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, developmental issues, and a range of other debilitating conditions. 

Despite the DoD's recognition of PFAS pollution, critical details such as affected areas, specific PFAS levels, and the ensuing health risks remain shrouded in ambiguity. This withholding of information has provoked widespread consternation among public health experts and local populations, who are demanding transparency and immediate action to mitigate the risks. "