News Feature | June 8, 2022

Pentagon Finds Elevated PFAS Levels In Drinking Water Near Its Bases

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


According to new data disclosed by the nation’s foremost security agency, military bases throughout the U.S. are linked to dangerous drinking water contamination.

“The Defense Department is reporting high levels of toxic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water near several of its bases, according to new data released by the department,” The Hill reported. “Drinking water testing near bases in Washington state, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan found levels of the chemicals well above a health threshold set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

PFAS have emerged as some of the most challenging drinking water contaminants in the country, nicknamed “forever chemicals” because of their long-lasting impact on the environment. Consumption of high levels of PFAS has been tied to acute health problems, and state and federal agencies have been working to hold polluters responsible and establish clearer treatment guidelines.

The connection between military bases and PFAS contamination has been clear for years, but this latest data — which the pentagon was required to disclose per the National Defense Authorization Act — demonstrates just how drastically the source water at these sites violates federal guidelines for PFAS levels. For instance, while the U.S. EPA recommends that certain PFAS not exceed 70 ppt in drinking water, drinking water near a Washington State base was found to contain 4,720 ppt for PFOS and 208 ppt for PFOA, two prominent classes of PFAS.

“These levels are extremely high,” said an Environmental Working Group representative, per Fox 4. “For too long, service members and people living in communities near military installations have been the victims of the Pentagon’s failure to act.”

Officials at the Department of Defense have indicated that they’ve worked to reduce PFAS consumption at these sites through water treatment, the distribution of bottled water, and public water system connections for residents relying on private wells.

“Defense officials also told The Hill that they ‘took action at all of these sites to reduce levels of PFAS in drinking water to below the EPA’s lifetime drinking water health advisory of 70 ppt,” The Hill reported.

To read more about how water systems grapple with PFAS contamination, visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.