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How is ATSDR involved investigating PFAS in the environment?

ATSDR is involved at a number of PFAS-related sites, either directly or through assisting state and federal partners (Figure 1). As of now, most sites are related to drinking water contamination connected with PFAS production facilities or fire training areas where aqueous film-forming firefighting foam (AFFF) was regularly used. We are working with one state partner on a site where consuming contaminated fish is the concern.

Active PFC ATSDR Sites

Figure 1. Perfluorinated compound (PFAS) sites with ATSDR, state health department, US Environmental Protection Agency, or Department of Defense involvement

Examples include:

Region 1

Merrimack Area of Southern New Hampshire (NH)

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) tested public and private drinking water supplies in the Merrimack area that may have been contaminated by discharges from nearby factories. Some of the wells are contaminated with PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). ATSDR is evaluating the test results to determine if drinking the water may harm people’s health and will provide the findings in a written report. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) is attending public meetings to address residents’ health concerns.

Background on the investigation is available via the NHDES website at https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pfoa.htm

Pease International Tradeport (aka Former Pease Air Force Base) (NH)

The City of Portsmouth, working with the NH Department of Environmental Services and the NH Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS), tested the Pease International Tradeport drinking water wells for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in May 2014. One of three wells had elevated levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid). The City of Portsmouth took the well off-line. PFAS were found in the other Tradeport wells, and in some residential private drinking water wells located near the site. Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant agent used at the former Pease Air Force Base, is the presumed source of PFAS. ATSDR will evaluate the test results from contaminated city and private wells to determine if drinking water from these wells may harm people’s health. They will provide their findings in written reports. ATSDR has created a Community Assistance Panel (CAP) to receive input from community members about health studies.

For more information, visit the CAP website at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/pease/cap.html.

The NH DHHS provides information about the site at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/investigation-pease.htm. In 2015, NH DHHS tested the blood of people who worked on, lived on, or attended childcare on the Pease Tradeport or Pease Air Force Base, and drank water from contaminated wells. A copy of the report is available at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/documents/pease-pfc-blood-testing.pdf

North Bennington PFOA Well Water (VT)

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VDEC) found PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) in private drinking water wells in North Bennington. PFOA is one of the chemicals in the PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) family. VDEC is testing private wells within a 1.5-mile radius of the former ChemFab site, which is the source of the PFOA, to see how widespread the contamination is. The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) asked NCEH/ATSDR for technical support in addressing health issues.

Visit the VT DPH for more information about PFOA at http://healthvermont.gov/response/environmental/pfoa-drinking-water-2016

 

Region 2

Community Water Systems (CWS) and Private Wells in Gloucester County (NJ)

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network petitioned ATSDR to investigate whether residents of Gloucester County, NJ, were exposed to harmful levels of PFNA (perfluorononanoic acid) and other PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in their drinking water.

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJ DOH) is reviewing public and private water sample results to see if people have been exposed to PFAS, and if the exposure could harm their health. ATSDR will provide technical support to the NJ DOH and will review and sign off on their reports.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (NJ)

The groundwater at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is contaminated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS has migrated into nearby private drinking water wells. The source of the PFAS in groundwater may be from past use of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF), a fire suppressant agent, at the base. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) is testing groundwater samples at this site. The USAF asked ATSDR to assist with answering the public’s PFAS-related health questions and provide public health education support. ATSDR is working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to answer questions from residents and health professionals.

Newburgh Water System PFOA/PFOS Investigation (NY)

PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) were found in public water supply and private drinking water wells in the City of Newburgh. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is evaluating the test results and will complete a written report with their findings. ATSDR will provide technical support to the NYSDOH and will review and sign off on their reports.

Visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website for more information about past and ongoing activities at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/108825.html. Information is also available at the NYSDOH website: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/investigations/newburgh/index.htm

Petersburg (NY)

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) was detected in the Town of Petersburgh’s public water supply and private drinking water wells. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is evaluating the water sample results, and will write a report with their findings. ATSDR will provide technical support to the NYSDOH and will review and sign off on their reports.

Visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website for more information about past and ongoing activities in the Town of Petersburgh at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/108820.html The NYSDOH website has additional information about ongoing investigations: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/investigations/drinkingwaterresponse/

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics (NY)

The Saint Gobain Performance Plastics Site in Hoosick Falls, NY, was proposed to EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) on September 9, 2016. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), through the ATSDR Cooperative Agreement Program (https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/states/index.html) will evaluate drinking water test results to determine if PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are at levels that may harm people’s health. ATSDR will provide technical support to the NYSDOH and will review and sign off on their reports.

Visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website for more information about past and ongoing activities in the Hoosick Falls area at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/108791.html. Visit the NYSDOH website for additional information at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/investigations/hoosick/

 

Region 3

Naval Air Development Center, Warminster TWP (PA)

Groundwater at the former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster site is contaminated with PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Navy tested private drinking water wells in Warminster, and the Warminster, Ivyland, Warwick, Northampton and upper Southampton townships. Some of the wells are contaminated with PFAS. Public water utilities continue to test water samples from their systems. The source of PFAS in the groundwater is likely past use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) in the area. In 2016, ATSDR produced a letter health consultation that evaluated the available off-site water test results. The report is available at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/NavalAirWarfareCenter/Naval_Air_Warfare_Center_LHC_01-20-2016_508.pdf.

ATSDR is working with the Mid Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment to answer health questions and to educate local health professionals about potential health effects caused by exposure to PFAS. In addition, ATSDR has worked with the PA Department of Health to summarize available cancer statistics for this area. The 2016 cancer data review for selected zip codes of Warminster, Warrington, and Horsham, PA, is available at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/CancerDataReviewPA/CancerDataReview_PA_508.pdf. PADOH is continuing to provide updates on the cancer information for this community at http://www.health.pa.gov/My%20Health/Environmental%20Health/Pages/default.aspx#.WgDCz2hOmEc.

Willow Grove NAS and ARS (PA)

Groundwater at the Willow Grove Air Station Joint Reserve Base is contaminated with PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Some public water supply wells in Horsham and Warrington Townships are contaminated, and the utilities continue to test the water in their systems. The Department of Defense asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test private well water near the site, and some private wells in Horsham, Warminster and Warrington are also contaminated with PFAS. The source of PFAS is likely a result of past use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) in the area.

EPA asked ATSDR to evaluate PFAS water sampling results in the public and private wells. ATSDR is currently preparing a report that reviews the public and private drinking water results.

ATSDR is working with the Mid Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment to answer the community’s health questions and to educate local health professionals about possible health effects caused by exposure to PFAS. ATSDR continues to work with the PA Department of Health to summarize available cancer statistics for this area because community members are concerned about cancer in their community. The 2016 cancer data review for selected zip codes of Warminster, Warrington, and Horsham, PA, is available at: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/CancerDataReviewPA/CancerDataReview_PA_508.pdf

PADOH is continuing to provide updates on the cancer information for this community at http://www.health.pa.gov/My%20Health/Environmental%20Health/Pages/default.aspx#.WgDCz2hOmEc.

Wallops Flight Center – NASA (VA)

The NASA Wallops Flight Center is located on Wallops Island, VA, near the Town of Chincoteague (ToC). Two of the three ToC shallow wells, and the deep well adjacent to them, are contaminated with PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) above the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory (HA) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The shallow wells, and the adjacent deep well are no longer being used for drinking water. Samples collected between the NASA fire training area and a residential community west of the facility contained traces of PFOA and PFOS that were below the HA.

At this time, the NASA water supply and the ToC water supply do not contain detectable levels of PFOA or PFOS in the finished drinking water. NASA will continue to test drinking water supplies for PFAS. NASA is installing groundwater monitoring wells to monitor PFAS levels in the shallow groundwater along the site perimeter. NASA is planning to test surface water and seafood (oysters and fish) for PFAS. There are several oyster beds near the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the local population is concerned about whether the PFAS contamination might be impacting the oyster industry. ATSDR is providing public health education support.

US Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress (VA)

In January 2016, the Navy sampled groundwater monitoring wells and the on-base drinking water wells at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress (NALF). PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) were detected in the monitoring wells and on-base drinking water supply wells). The NALF drinking water supply wells were shut down and the base supplied with bottled water. Private wells located off-site were sampled, and some wells were above the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory (HA) for PFOS and PFOA. The Navy is providing alternative water to residences with contaminated wells, and is sampling the wells quarterly. The source of the PFAS is aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used for firefighting exercises conducted at the site. The Navy has installed a total of 47 on-base groundwater monitoring wells for further delineation of PFAS.

For more information, visit the Navy website at https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrma/installations/nas_oceana/om/environmental_support/NALF_fentress_drinking_water.html.

Oceana Naval Air Station (NAS Oceana) (VA)

Groundwater at the NAS Oceana was tested for PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances), following detections of PFAS at nearby Fentress. On-site sampling found PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) combined exceeding the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory (HA) for PFOS and PFOA. Off-site sampling did not detect levels above EPA’s lifetime HA. The source of the PFAS is aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used in training activities at the site. ATSDR is providing health education and technical support activities at the site.

Additional information is available at https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrma/installations/nas_oceana/om/environmental_support/oceana_drinking_water.html.

 

Region 4

PFC Exposure Investigation in Vicinity of Decatur (AL)

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked ATSDR to investigate if people who live near Decatur, Alabama, downstream of PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) factories have been exposed to PFAS. These facilities used to discharge PFAS into the air, water, and soil. In 2010, ATSDR tested residents’ blood and found that some of their blood contained PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals, now called PFAS). ATSDR conducted follow-up blood and urine testing in 2016. Information about blood testing is available at:

  • Perfluorochemical Serum Sampling – Exposure Investigation Report, available at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/HCPHA.asp?State=AL
  • Blood PFC Testing and Health Information Summary, Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone Counties, Alabama Information update to the ATSDR Health Consultation Exposure Investigation Report: Perfluorochemical Serum Sampling in the vicinity of Decatur, Alabama – Morgan, Lawrence, and Limestone Counties dated April 1, 2013.

Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport (MS)

The Navy has initiated an investigation to identify, delineate, and address the PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the groundwater at the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport. Records show that aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant agent, was used at the Former Firefighting Training Area from 1966 to 1975. PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) have been detected in shallow groundwater monitoring wells at the Former Firefighting Training Area. The Navy held an open house in April, 2017 to talk to people who live near the site about having their private potable water wells tested for PFAS. The Navy asked ATSDR to participate in the Open House to discuss PFAS exposure and potential health effects that may be caused by PFAS contamination in from drinking water. ATSDR Region 4 staff, and the MS State Department of Health, participated in the Open House, and answered attendees’ health related questions.

US Naval Air Station Meridian (MS)

The Navy is investigating PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the groundwater at NAS Meridian. Records show that aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant agent, was used at the site in the past. The Navy held an Open House in April, 2017 to talk to people who live near the site about having their private drinking water wells tested for PFAS. The Navy asked ATSDR to participate in the Open House to discuss PFAS exposure and potential health effects that may be linked with PFAS contamination in drinking water. ATSDR Region 4 staff, and the MS State Department of Health, participated in the Open House, and answered attendees’ health related questions.

Marine Corp Air Station Outlying Field Atlantic (NC)

The Marine Corp Outlying Field Atlantic (MCAS) is located approximately 26 miles east of MCAS Cherry Point. Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant agent, may have been stored at the site for firefighting purposes in the past. The town of Atlantic, NC, located adjacent to the site, relies on private water wells for drinking water. There are approximately 637 potential private water wells located within 1 mile of the site, including one elementary school with a private potable water well. No site investigation has been conducted. However, an Open House will be held in late summer to ask people within the 1-mile radium to have their wells tested for PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances). ATSDR will answer health-related questions at the Open House. Additionally, ATSDR will provide technical support to the North Carolina Health and Human Services (NC HHS) and will review and sign off on their reports.

 

Region 5

US Army National Guard Camp Grayling (MI)

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is providing technical assistance to the Michigan National Guard in their investigation of PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination of groundwater at Camp Grayling. The source of the PFAS contamination is believed to be use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant agent, at the firefighting training area near the airfield on the base. Residents who live near the base are being asked to let the Department of Defense test their well water for PFAS. MDHHS will evaluate the private well test results, determine if drinking the water may harm people’s health, and write a report that presents their findings. They will coordinate with the local health department and ATSDR. Testing the City of Grayling’s municipal water is planned. The local fire department is providing an alternate water supply for the base. ATSDR will provide technical support to the MDHHS and will review and sign off on their reports.

For more information about the investigation, and ATSDR PFAS information, visit the MDHHS website at http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3307_29693-411914–,00.html.

Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base (MI)

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is evaluating people’s exposures to PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the environment. Releases of PFAS from activities at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base have resulted in groundwater and surface water contamination. Sampling by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Air Force has identified elevated levels of PFAS contamination in some locally caught fish and drinking water wells. MDHHS has conducted health education in the community, issued a fish advisory, and installed fish advisory signs on affected water bodies, and helped the local health department provide an alternate water supply to the community. ATSDR will provide health education and technical support to the MDHHS, and will review and sign off on their reports.

More information is available at http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71551_2945_5105-285528–,00.html.

 

Region 6

Former US Naval Air Station Chase Field (TX)

Chase Field Naval Air Station is located in Beeville, TX. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will conduct investigations to determine if groundwater at either of the two fire training areas on the site is contaminated with PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances). They will evaluate the potential for human exposure through well testing. ATSDR will provide community outreach and education support of groundwater sampling efforts and interpretation of the sampling results.

For more information about PFAS, visit the ATSDR website at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfc/index.html.

 

Region 9

Oatman Water Company (AZ)

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality asked the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to evaluate whether PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) detected in the Oatman Water Company public water system could harm people’s health. Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant agent, used in the area is the likely source of PFAS contamination in groundwater. ADHS completed a health consultation. The Oatman Water Company is now using a different groundwater well and has not detected PFAS in that well. ATSDR provided technical support to the ADHS and reviewed and signed off on their reports.

The health consultation can be found at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/OatmanWaterCompany/Oatman_Water_Company_HC_(final)_11-14-2016_508.pdf.

Former Naval Air Station Agana (Guam)

Public and private drinking water wells contain PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination above EPA’s lifetime health advisory (HA). An investigation is being conducted to determine the extent of the contamination at this time.

 

Region 10

Eielson Air Force Base (AK)

In March 2015, the Air Force found PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in some of the drinking water wells at the Eielson Air Force Base. The contaminated wells are no longer being used. The Air Force continues to monitor the remaining wells to ensure that PFAS levels in the water system are not above EPA’s lifetime health advisory (HA) levels for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate). Later in 2015, the Air Force found PFAS in nearby private drinking water wells along Moose Creek. The Air Force is providing alternative drinking water to the impacted homes. ATSDR and our cooperative agreement partners at the Alaska Division of Public Health (ADPH) assisted in public meetings to provide information on the impacts to health. ATSDR and ADPH continue to provide support as needed. ATSDR continues to provide technical support to the ADPH and will review and sign off on their reports.

For more information, visit the Eielson AFB website at http://www.eielson.af.mil/Info/Environmental/PFC-Timeline/.

Fairbanks Regional Fire Training Center (AK)

The City of Fairbanks, Alaska, is investigating PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination of well water that may be caused by use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) at the Regional Fire Training Center (RFTC). The city sampled for PFAS in nearby wells and reported PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) above the EPA lifetime health advisory (HA) in some wells. Bottled water was provided and the city is working with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation on a long-term plan for tracking the wells until another permanent source of safe drinking water is established. ATSDR will provide technical support to the Alaska Division of Public Health (ADPH) and perform scientific review and approval of the public health products. ADPH has participated in public meetings and produced a general fact sheet on PFAS which addressed community questions. The fact sheet can be found at http://dec.alaska.gov/spar/csp/sites/docs/DeptofHealthPFASFactSheet.pdf.

Fairchild Air Force Base (WA)

Fairchild Air Force Base is located about 15 miles west of Spokane, Washington. The Air Force is investigating releases of PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) from past use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), fire suppressant agent, at airfields. After sampling identified PFAS on base, the Air Force tested private wells down gradient from the base. At this time, community water systems and several homes have PFAS in their well water. The community water system is blending well water so that the final water contains less than 70 parts per trillion of PFAS and are working to install a PFAS removal treatment system. The Air Force provided bottled water to private well owners with levels above the EPA lifetime health advisory for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate). Additional sampling is planned.

For more information, visit the following websites:

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island/Naval Outlying Field Coupeville (WA)

The Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island, Washington is located at Oak Harbor’s Ault Field and Coupeville’s Outlying Landing Field. PFAS (per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been detected on both airfields from past use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire suppressant. PFAS have migrated off both airfields into nearby private wells; however, the extent and depth of the plumes have not been completely identified. The Navy has conducted additional sampling at more residences to determine the extent of contamination. The Navy provided bottled water to residences with PFAS levels greater than EPA’s lifetime health advisory for PFOS (perfluorocctaane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). At the Navy’s request, ATSDR, Washington State Department of Health (WADOH), and local health are assisting in answering the public’s PFAS-related health questions. ATSDR is providing technical support to the WADOH and is reviewing and signing off on their reports.

For more information about this site visit https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Health/EH/Hydrogeology/Pages/NAS-PFAS.aspx.

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