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Nearly 3,000 private wells near US military bases have been found contaminated with PFAS chemicals, exceeding the safety levels set by federal regulators.
The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, analyzed Department of Defense data and found that 2,805 wells across 29 states are contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) above the proposed limit of 4 parts per trillion by the Environmental Protection Agency. These wells are located near 63 active and former military bases, with Texas reporting the highest number of contaminated wells. Although these levels exceed the EPA’s proposed standard, they are lower than the 70 parts per trillion threshold used by the Pentagon to initiate remediation efforts.
The Defense Department is conducting investigations into PFAS contamination at hundreds of current and former military sites. PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment and accumulation in the human body, have been linked to various health issues. The Pentagon’s current standard for PFAS in drinking water is based on a 2016 EPA health advisory, with plans to adjust it following the implementation of the new federal standard.
Despite the Defense Department’s efforts to address high-level contamination, concerns remain for those living near military installations with PFAS levels above the EPA’s proposed standard but below the Pentagon’s current thresho
Jared Hayes, a senior policy analyst with the Environmental Working Group, emphasized the need for testing and mitigation measures for these areas. He said, “They are going to have to test more bases. Those 2,805 [wells] are going to be a small number when they start testing drinking water wells near every single base.”