The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that they will begin examining human exposure to toxic substances in communities near current or former military bases.
The toxin being examined, per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are man-made chemicals used in products like non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics — and firefighting foams used by the DoD for decades.
At elevated exposure levels, this foam can increase risks of cancer or other health issues, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office study. Installations with elevated levels of firefighting foam chemicals span the entire country.
The results of these assessments will help communities better understand the extent of their environmental exposures to PFAS.
“The assessments will generate information about exposure to PFAS in affected communities and will extend beyond the communities identified, as the lessons learned can also be applied to communities facing similar PFAS drinking water exposures. This will serve as a foundation for future studies evaluating the impact of PFAS exposure on human health,” said Patrick Breysse, Ph.D., director, CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
So far, investigations into this contamination have cost $200 million and identified 401 installations with known or potential chemical exposure.