Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field in Hampton Roads was recently discovered to have contaminated well water. The culprit is residue leftover from firefighting foam used at the base up until the 1980s during training exercises drills.
perfluorinated compounds. Currently, Virginia does not have established guidelines for safe levels of perfluorinated compounds in drinking water.
However, based on provisional EPA guidelines, the levels of certain contaminants in Fentress' water supply range from 4 to 5 times the suggested threshold.
In some studies, perfluorinated compounds have been linked to liver and thyroid damage, as well as decreased birth weight and elevated cholesterol, which could have implications for past and present sailors and civilians working on the base.
That being said, let's be clear on one thing:
To date, only the well water at Fentress in particular has been shown to be contaminated. Any reports about widespread pollution in any of Virginia's municipal water supplies is alarmist and simply untrue.
Currently the Navy plans on testing wells within a half-mile of the airfield for contaminants, which are normally found in items such as paint, carpets, cookware and food packaging, among others.
While the Navy and appropriate agencies sort out the Fentress situation as quickly as possible, please remember that perfluorooctane isn't lurking in every Virginia faucet. Stay tuned as the situation develops.
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