U.S. Military Base Water Supplies Linked To Increased Risk Of Breast Cancer

Army and Air Force veteran Steve H. and his wife, Genna once had happy memories of raising their daughter at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Those memories are now all they have left, though their happiness has been uprooted by an invisible enemy.

Tragically, 22-year-old Cecilia died of breast cancer, now linked to exposure to toxic chemicals during her time at Langley.

“We learned about the long-term contamination about two months after Cecilia was told that her breast cancer has spread beyond the nearby lymph nodes to the brain. We were furious,” Steven told Environmental Litigation Group P.C. “I made the connection instantly that PFAS likely caused her cancer.”

PFAS is found in aqueous fire fighting foam (AFFF) and other products.
PFAS is found in aqueous fire fighting foam (AFFF) and other products.

The Department of Defense reports that over the last few decades, thousands of new PFAS chemicals have landed on the market in the form of textile treatments and fire suppressants. Two of the most common PFAS compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), have been linked between to serious diseases like breast cancer.

According to Jonathan Sharp, CFO and Director of Claims at Environmental Litigation Group P.C., “Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, the group of chemicals known collectively as PFAS, are found at high levels in a firefighting foam called aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used by the military for maintenance, testing, and training exercises and to extinguish liquid and gas fires, which has seeped into groundwater and ultimately affecting drinking water sources.”

PFAS can contaminate drinking water if released into the water system.
PFAS can contaminate drinking water if released into the water system.

The water treatment plants around military bases are responsible for serving service personnel and their families, base administrative offices, schools, recreational areas and other facilities.

The effects of PFAS in the human bloodstream include cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, adverse effects on the human immune system, and reduced effectiveness of vaccines, the EPA reports, However, these illnesses do not often show until years after exposure, however, by which time those once stationed at a military base may have moved on.

A number of military bases have tested positive for PFAS contamination.
A number of military bases have tested positive for PFAS contamination.

Causal connections may be hard to make in some cases, but the evidence is not only hard to ignore, it’s growing.

“Military communities throughout the country that are still drinking water with high levels of PFAS chemicals from groundwater seepage. Recent studies show that the number of PFAS-contaminated military sites has jumped to 700 from 401. Our servicemen and women and the families who love them sacrifice enough already and should be protected from preventable injuries and diseases”, said Gregory A. Cade, a lawyer who litigated thousands of toxic tort and environmental claims.

PFAS compounds are called
PFAS compounds are called “forever chemicals” as they are ubiquitous and extremely difficult to remove from environmental media.

A growing body of evidence indicates that there is a connection between environmental factors like PFAS exposure and breast cancer. Further testing on the effects of PFAS is planned, but there’s little question in the minds of those who have been exposed to these deadly chemicals.

“Former service members and their families – spouses and children – who lived at military facilities across the country, from Alaska to Florida, are now facing a high rate of serious illnesses, including breast cancer, due to chemical contaminants in drinking-water sources arising from industrial sources and military-affiliated operations,” Sharp writes.

Until recently, PFAS contaminated the drinking water of scores of military bases, and many communities near these installations continue to drink contaminated water. At least 28 bases have been identified by EWG with PFAS in drinking water at levels above those set by some state regulators. Among the most contaminated:

  • Fort Bragg, in North Carolina
  • West Point Military Academy, in New York
  • Yuma Proving Ground, in Arizona
  • Center Strafford Training Site, in New Hampshire
  • Marianna Readiness Center, in Florida

PFAS chemicals are now either confirmed or suspected at 678 military installations, EWG reports.

Help us bring justice to the families affected by PFAS poisoning on military bases.
Help us bring justice to the families affected by PFAS poisoning on military bases.

Steve, and his wife, Genna, are now advocates for stiffer PFAS regulations. They will not stand by as others face the same fate as their daughter.

“In the wake of Cecilia’s tragic passing, we are fighting to protect other families and children,” Steve said. “We owe it to them and to communities throughout the country affected by PFAS-contaminated water to do the right thing – designate these two harmful chemicals as ‘Hazardous Substances’ under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which would compel liable polluters to clean up contamination, and set a protective federal drinking water standard. Our fight is not over. The time is now is the time to get these important PFAS provisions across the finish line.”

PFAS-contaminated groundwater is a common occurrence at both active, or former U.S. military bases, many of which are on the EPA’s Superfund list, meaning they need immediate and intense cleanup. But that attention may not be forthcoming until these chemicals are recognized for the dangers they present.

Click below and demand that The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), define PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances.

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