US Army finds chemicals in private wells near Yakima Training Center

SELAH, Wash. – The U.S. military has found dozens of private wells near the Yakima Training Center with higher-than-normal levels of a type of potentially hazardous chemical previously used in firefighting efforts on the property.

The military has tested 108 wells since the fall and found 38 wells had elevated concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid – chemicals collectively known as PFAS – affecting at least 56 dependent households. of these wells.

“PFAS are present in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a critical firefighting agent used to rapidly extinguish petroleum fires at airports. “, said a press release. “AFFF was previously used at the training center in Yakima.

Food wraps, cookware, carpet protectors, and waterproofing chemicals can also contain PFAS.

The tests detected amounts of PFAS above those recommended for drinking water in these wells, above the 70 parts per trillion set by a health advisory from the Environmental Protection Agency.

READ: US military discovers unhealthy drinking water near Yakima training center

“With the latest sampling effort, all 44 residences that were contacted over the past weekend were immediately offered bottled water upon notification with a sustained delivery of bottled water to be used for drinking and cooking until a long-term sanitation solution can be implemented,” the Army Lt. Colonel Luke Wittmer, commanding officer of the Yakima training center.

According to Washington State Department of Healthsome studies show that high levels of PFAS can lead to:

  • Increased cholesterol level.
  • Decreased birth weight.
  • Decreased immune response to vaccines.
  • Changes in liver enzymes that indicate liver damage.
  • Increased risk of thyroid disease.
  • Increased risk of testicular and kidney cancer.

Wittmer said anyone concerned about potential health effects from PFAS should contact their primary care physician or health care provider for more information.

“We will continue our comprehensive efforts by working in partnership with state and federal regulatory partners and agencies to further investigate and respond to military releases of PFAS, if any, to ensure we continue to protect soldiers, their families and our communities,” Wittmer said. .

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