In the 1970s, the Department of Defense started deploying a special foam called aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) to suppress petroleum-based fires. The foam proved efficient because it contained a family of man-made chemicals known as PFAS, which function as surfactants, spreading the foam and allowing it to cool and extinguish the fire. These substances, on the other hand, have the potential to cause harmful health effects in humans as well as environmental damage. As a result of growing evidence that these chemicals may be connected to human health risks, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a health alert in 2016 stating that less than 70 parts per trillion of this chemical should be present in drinking water. Because of the widespread usage of this firefighting foam on military installations, the Department of Defense decided to test all of its locations.
What toxic agents are present on Arnold Air Force Base?
Since 1983, a dry track of gravel-filled terrain at Arnold Air Force Base has been out of service. For about two decades, it served as a training ground for Air Force troops who started large fires and trained to put them out. Soil and groundwater contamination below this fire training location was discovered to be 2,500 times greater than the EPA's health advisory level. Two PFAS compounds that are known to be harmful were involved: PFOA and PFOS, the key components in a majority of AFFF.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a family of potentially thousands of synthetic chemicals that are gaining national attention after studies have connected them to health problems, including cancer. It is ubiquitous on military bases around the nation, including Arnold Air Force Base, where it has been detected in high concentrations. Concerns have been raised about the possibility of it spreading further. Because of their strong carbon-fluorine linkages, PFAS are almost indestructible in nature, and specialists predict that they will persist in soil for thousands of years. As a result of their persistence, they have earned the moniker "forever chemicals".
What health problems is PFAS exposure responsible for?
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has shown a relationship between PFAS exposure and damage to the body's natural hormones and immune system, as well as higher cholesterol levels and an increased risk of some cancers. Children are especially vulnerable to PFAS; they might be exposed before birth via the umbilical cord and subsequently as newborns through breast milk.
The following is a thorough list of all of the medical conditions that may be caused by exposure to PFAS and for which you may be eligible to file a toxic exposure claim:
If you or your loved one has been exposed to PFAS, which abound in AFFF, while serving on active duty, whether it has been a few years or decades, it’s important to see your doctor regularly to make sure you’re in good health. For some people who have already been diagnosed with cancer or lost a loved one to cancer, it’s not too late to seek legal advice.