Military personnel with cancer and other diseases may need to consider their historical exposure to chemicals used at these bases and present in the drinking water. Specifically, PFAS contamination poses a pressing issue for military bases worldwide. These synthetic chemicals, commonly found in firefighting foams and various industrial applications, are infiltrating soil and water sources, presenting significant environmental and health risks. Scientific studies associate exposure to these chemicals with kidney and testicular cancers.

Military Hotspots

Military bases have become hotspots for contamination. Historically, the military used enormous amounts of PFAS-containing firefighting foams and contaminated drinking water at the bases and surrounding communities. The persistent nature of PFAS compounds exacerbates the problem, leading to long-term environmental degradation and health concerns for military personnel and surrounding communities.

Pennsylvania Military Base Contamination

PFAS contaminants have been confirmed on over 700 military installations across the US, ten of which are in Pennsylvania. The most affected bases in the Keystone State are as follows:

Military Service and Cancer

Military personnel exposed to firefighting foam by drinking water or using firefighting foam may develop kidney, testicular, liver, and thyroid cancers from this exposure. Moreover, communities near these bases are likely to have contaminated public water systems. To put the severity of these contamination levels in perspective, the new EPA drinking water standards will be 4 ppt. This means the drinking water at Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Horsham Township is 59,875 times above the proposed EPA drinking water standards. Moreover, if military personnel were also using firefighting foam while they were on base, then their exposure is even higher. This is an example from one base in Pennsylvania. Bases like this exist all over the United States.

Furthermore, the consequences of PFAS contamination on military bases are multifaceted. Firstly, it jeopardizes the health of service members, their families, and nearby civilians, as exposure to PFAS causes various adverse health effects, including cancer, immune system disorders, and reproductive issues. Secondly, it challenges water resource management, as contaminated groundwater and soil require extensive remediation efforts, often spanning years or even decades. It imposes financial burdens on the military, as cleanup costs and potential liabilities escalate.

Addressing Military Base PFAS Contamination

Addressing PFAS contamination demands a comprehensive approach involving stringent regulation, advanced remediation technologies, and risk management strategies. Additionally, fostering transparency and collaboration between military authorities, environmental agencies, and affected communities is crucial to effectively mitigate the impacts of PFAS contamination on military bases and safeguard public health and the environment for generations to come.

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