You shouldn’t drink your tap water if you live near one of these 678 military bases and thousands of industry areas in the US

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Map of PFAS contamination in the US, PFAS US contamination map, map contamination PFAS usa
Map of PFAS contamination in the US. blue: water contamination; purple: military bases; orange: other known plants (industry). Map via EWG

High levels of toxic, widely used “forever chemicals” contaminate groundwater around at least six military sites in the Great Lakes region, according to U.S. Department of Defense records that an environmental group released Tuesday.

The Environmental Working Group said PFAS, an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have oozed into the Great Lakes and pose a risk to people who eat fish tainted with the chemicals.

Pentagon documents show at least 385 military installations nationwide are polluted with PFAS, mostly from firefighting foam used widely in training exercises, the group said.

Military sites with PFAS contamination, danger PFAS, PFAS water contamination usa
Military sites with PFAS contamination. Map via EWG

Now if you add suspected military sites than the number increases to more than 675:

US military sites with PFAS contamination
US military sites (confirmed in purple and suspected in orange) with PFAS contamination. Map by EWG

If you are relying on well water and are near one of these bases where PFAS has been confirmed in the groundwater, you should be concerned,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs. “And you should be doubly concerned if you are near one of the hundreds of bases where PFAS is suspected but not confirmed.

Asked for comment, a Pentagon spokesman referred to remarks by Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment and energy resilience, during a July 14 public discussion on PFAS. Kidd said it would take “years to fully define cleanup requirements the department faces, and probably decades before that cleanup is complete.

We are intent on making sustained progress on all PFAS challenges,” Kidd said, adding that cleanup costs were estimated at $2 billion.

drinking water with PAFS contamination, PFAS contamination, PFAS contamination drinking water, PFAS contamination usa, PFAS contamination usa map
Map of main areas of PFAS drinking water contamination in the US. Map by EWG

Extreme levels of PFAS contamination in the Great Lakes Area

A review of department records showed PFAS has been detected at levels up to 213,000 parts per trillion at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan, which closed in 1993, the Environmental Working Group said.

State officials discovered the contamination in 2010. The Air Force is treating PFAS-contaminated groundwater at some sites in the area, but local residents and members of Congress have called the actions insufficient and demanded a stronger and faster approach.

The environmental group said its study turned up high readings at five other Great Lakes bases.

Combined levels of PFOA and PFOS, two of the most commonly used chemicals in the group, reached as high as 1.3 million ppt at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in Niagara County, New York.

Other readings included 135,000 ppt of the compound PFHxS at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee; 82,000 ppt of PFOA and PFOS at Alpena County Regional Airport in Michigan; 17,000 ppt of PFOS at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mount Clemens, Michigan; and 5,400 ppt of PFHxS at Duluth International Airport in Minnesota.

Also civilian airports

Most civilian airports also have firefighting foam containing PFAS and some have released it to the environment during emergency fire suppression and training, said Melanie Benesh, the group’s legislative attorney.

Federal regulations require that airports be equipped with foams meeting military specifications, although Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to allow foams without PFAS.

The Environmental Protection Agency presently has a non-enforceable health advisory level of 70 ppt for PFOS and PFOA for drinking water.

What are PFAS?

PFAS compounds, first developed in the 1940s, are used in a variety of commercial and household products ranging from non-stick cookware to food packaging and water-repellent clothing. Foam containing PFAS has long been used to extinguish jet fuel fires.

The compounds are called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment or the human body and can accumulate over time. They have been linked to a variety of health problems including cancer, liver damage and decreased fertility. [EWG, AP]

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17 Comments

  1. it’s the military so you shouldn’t be surprised. Made up of grunts and career men that couldn’t give a dam ‘cept their paycheck and pension.

    • Actually we do care as many of us live in base housing therefore our families are exposed to dangerous things. How dare you make such a disparaging statement.

  2. It’s not only military bases, it’s any industry, like farmland where drainage has become laser precision, so fertilizers, and herbicides get into the water table, and drain into lakes and rivers. These days, the earth is very polluted, and hard to get away from those pollutants. Lunatics are spraying chemicals, and some really bad crap into the atmosphere in the name of climate change, poisoning the earth even further.

    • 👍 ❤️ In my household we won’t use any water that hasn’t been filtered by a McCanney Water Product. Clean healthy water is a necessity! This is not a paid promotion . . . I’m a satisfied & grateful customer.

    • Very good observation, Leon. Tonic water, or what the adults used to call quinine water. Most young people don’t remember this product. We always had tonic water in the house. The adults would make their gin and tonic, with a twist of lime. Of course, I was a smartass, and sneak sips by the time I was six or seven—to be sophisticated like the adults.

    • just be aware that quinine can be toxic? few yrs ago there was a story about bars that made their own tonic water. some made it too strong and people got sick. may not be reversable? research.

      • To oldbat,
        You can get Ivermectin at feedstores. It is made for horses. It can be used by humans, same way livestock or aquarium store sell penicillin or amoxicillin. Adjust dose for human consumption orally. I am not a doctor.

  3. Probably intentional. Tap water is garbage. Test yours, and that’s probably what you will discover. Flouride is bad for your health as well.

    Michigan sure has had bad luck. I feel for those people. I visited Flint. People are really good people, and the food is awesome as far as meat and potatoes type dinner, for real men.

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