The military is beginning to check whether chemicals from its firefighting foam may have contaminated groundwater at hundreds of sites nationwide, according to the Defense Department.
The Navy began sampling water at bases in December.
At a naval landing field in Virginia, the U.S. Navy is now giving its personnel bottled water and testing wells in the nearby rural area after the discovery of perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water. Several congressmen are raising concerns about the safety of drinking water near two former Navy bases in suburban Philadelphia because of firefighting foam.
The foam is used at locations where potentially catastrophic fuel fires can occur because it can rapidly extinguish them. It contains perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOS and PFOA, both considered emerging contaminants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Studies have shown that perfluorinated chemicals may be associated with prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, and other health issues, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The EPA issued an advisory that contains concentrations for the chemicals, above which action should be taken to reduce exposure.