A group of 14 members of Congress from seven states recently called on President Donald Tump’s administration, including the Department of Defense, to do more to address perfluorinated chemical contamination around military bases nationwide.
“People living on or near current and former military installations across the country are being exposed to contamination in their drinking water from perfluorinated chemicals,” the lawmakers wrote. “Despite the danger PFCs present, the Department of Defense has been slow to provide safe drinking water to those areas with contaminated water.”
For more than a year, members of Congress have requested that the Department of Defense prioritize investigation of PFC contamination and provide safe drinking water for the impacted areas.
“Yet there are still veterans, their families and surrounding communities exposed to PFC-contaminated drinking water that the Department of Defense has yet to address,” the lawmakers continued in their letter.
Firefighting foam used at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and other military installations nationwide contains PFCs that are now causing health issues for veterans and local residents. In 2013, high levels of PFCs were discovered in fish in the Au Sable River close to Wurtsmith and then subsequently in groundwater wells near the base that are above the U.S. EPA’s health advisory level, leaving many residents at risk to harmful levels of PFCs in their drinking water.
According to the lawmakers, years after high levels of PFCs were discovered near Wurtsmith, the DOD is still not acting with enough urgency to complete testing around military bases and to develop a long-term solution to mitigate the health effects of people already exposed. Additionally, the EPA has not yet finalized its health standard for PFCs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PFCs pose potential risks such as kidney and liver damage. There is also concern about other health problems, including low birth weight, delayed puberty onset, elevated cholesterol levels and reduced immunologic responses to vaccinations.
“We ask that the Administration hasten the DoD’s response to the issue of PFC contamination,” the members of Congress wrote. “We have asked our service members to make critical sacrifices for our freedom and we must assure them that they, and their families, have access to safe drinking water.”