Some of the nation’s highest concentrations of PFAS in and near military sites.
PFAS is the abbreviation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, a vast class of ubiquitously produced artificial chemicals. These chemicals are present everywhere: in our houses, on the packaging of our food, and in our clothes. Some of the highest amounts of PFAS chemicals in the country have been discovered in and near military sites. Environmental Working Group has found probable pollution at least 704 active and past military sites throughout the United States. The cost of remediation may approach billions of dollars.
Multiple locations have more than one million parts per trillion, as determined by Environmental Working Group research. Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Erik Olson said, “It is a pervasive and grave issue.” Many dangerous compounds are quantified in parts per million, unlike PFAS, measured in parts per trillion. Olson states, “This is a thousand times more dangerous than many other substances regulated in tap water.” Nearly all persons on Earth have detectable PFAS levels in their blood.
Some PFAS molecules stay in the environment for decades, while others endure millennia. In the 1970s, the Defense Department started deploying firefighting foams extensively due to their capacity to suffocate combustible objects. In 1991, the Army Corps of Engineers instructed Fort Carson, Colorado, authorities to cease employing AFFF. In 2011, 20 years later, the Department of Defense issued a Chemical and Material Emerging Risk Alert for PFAS. The military did not warn soldiers about the possible consequences of PFAS exposure until 2016.