Number of US military members exposed to toxic “perpetual chemicals” much higher than military claims, finds a new independent analysis of data Department of Defense.
report of pentagon which aimed to assess the extent of exposure to PFAS (Perpetual Chemicals) chemicals at their bases, as well as the hazards they pose to the health of members of the armed forces, estimated that approximately 175,000 soldiers from 24 facilities Contaminated water was consumed.
However, analysis of military reports by environmental working group (EWG), a non-profit organization that monitors PFAS contamination, revealed that the number is likely much higher, and could be as high as 640,000+ people across 116 sites, and potentially millions more. can also be. If involving ex-members of the armed forces.
In addition, reports seemed to omit health problems associated with PFAS exposure, such as kidney disease, testicular cancer and effects on the fetus. The full report is “disappointing,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president of government affairs.
“The Department of Defense trying to minimize these risks instead of actively informing members of the military and cleaning up their legacy of contamination,” he said. “It has a long history of being ignored when it comes to PFAS contamination ”
Department of Defense He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
PFAS are a group of about 12,000 chemicals commonly used to make products resistant to water, stains and heat. They are called sustainable chemicals because they do not break down naturally and persist in the environment. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, liver disease, high cholesterol levels, thyroid disorders, birth defects and autoimmune dysfunction.
PFAS is believed to contaminate the drinking water of more than 200 million people nationwide, and high levels of contamination have been detected at hundreds of sites around the world. Department of Defense and surrounding areas, as these chemicals are the main ingredient in the fire fighting foam used by the military.
Congress ordered the report Department of Defense But National Defense Authorization Act 2019 (NDAA), however, the Army has not posted it on the Department’s PFAS webpage, so it is not available for public viewing or except by request from members of the Army.
“This is the part that should bother all Americans,” Faber said. “It’s not that he intentionally underestimated how many members of the military were exposed … It’s that he didn’t tell anyone.”
analysis of Department of DefenseThe April 2022 date appears designed to reduce exposure estimates in several key ways, the EWG said.
It included only grounds in which levels of two types of PFAS — PFOS and PFOA — exceeded the 70 parts per trillion (ppt) limit previously recommended for health by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the EPA lowered that level in June to less than 1 ppt for each compound.
Although the report was released about two months before the change, the military often lobbies the EPA on environmental standards, pending the change was in the public domain, and the military moved quickly to release its report before the EPA, Faber’s formal announcement went. noted. “It’s clearly happening,” he said.
The figures also did not include four large bases — Fort Bragg, Yakima Training Center, Fort Leavenworth and Picatinny Arsenal — where levels ranged from 98 ppt to 647 ppt.
level reached above 21,000 ppt on the basis of horsham air national guardLocated in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the report only took into account the troops that were on bases at the time of the analysis, which means that it is “immediate time”. The military began using PFAS fire fighting foam over 50 years ago.
“The real question is how many million members of the military have drunk contaminated water over the past half century,” Faber said.
The number is likely to be higher if other types of PFAS are also included in the military. PFOA and PFOS are two of the most common, but there are thousands more in commercial use, and the EPA also sets health warning limits for two other compounds.
Although Congress required Department of Defense While it included an assessment of risks to soldiers’ health, the Army excluded risks to fetal and maternal health because it “focused on members of the military and veterans,” the department wrote. The EWG notes that about 13,000 members of the military give birth each year, and many live on military installations. Department of Defense, The military also failed to mention the increased risks of testicular and kidney cancer. “It’s shocking and there was no explanation,” Faber said.
It is unknown what the next step of the report will be. Congress directed the Department of Defense Phase out fire fighting foams that use PFAS by October 2023 and develop a cleanup plan. The military has already missed a deadline to submit a cleanup plan to Congress, but Faber said it has new political leadership, and that the Biden administration has been more serious than the Trump administration in tackling pollution.
“The next few years will be critical in readjusting the way Department of Defense It addresses toxic chemicals like PFAS,” Faber said.