One of more than 100 sites
The Air Force Times is reporting potentially harmful levels of a cancer-causing chemical have been found in water on or near 126 military bases or former installations throughout the world, including Dover Air Force Base.
Some 36 of 67 sampled Dover AFB groundwater wells showed unacceptable levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Base officials refused to identify locations on base where contaminants were found. One contaminated well was found at a nearby home. A 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office spokesman, who refused to be identified, said the contaminated private well was one of 19 tested in areas immediately adjacent to places on base where PFOS or PFOA were found.
Information in the report showed water from that off-base well had levels of 91 parts per trillion for combined concentrations of the chemicals. The EPA set a limit of 70 parts per trillion in 2016.
Limited human studies have shown these chemicals, widely used in firefighting foams, may be associated with developmental delays in fetuses and children. They also could cause decreased fertility, changes to the immune system, and prostate, kidney and testicular cancers and other illnesses.
According to a March 2018 report to the House Armed Services Committee, inspectors found no PFOS or PFOA in the public drinking water at the base.
The chemicals do not break down in the environment. Instead, they must be extracted by using granular activated carbon filters.
A government-funded activated carbon filtration system was installed at the private home as a permanent solution to the problem. The Air Force will continue to sample and analyze water there and will provide new filters as needed.
The 36 polluted groundwater wells on the base itself all showed contamination above the 70 ppt limit, ranging from 77 ppt to 2.8 million.
Concerns about the chemicals have caused the Air Force to begin changing firefighting sprays.