Environmental report finds water contamination in Duval, Clay counties

Contamination found in local water

NORTHEAST FLORIDA — More than 100 million Americans may have been drinking water contaminated with highly toxic chemicals.

A new report from the Environmental Working Group says PFAS was found in every state on military sites, in drinking water or other unknown sites. It said the harmful chemicals were found in more than 712 locations in 49 states.

PFAS are man-made chemicals. They are known as “forever chemicals” because once released into the environment, they do not break down and builds up in a person’s blood or organs. Typically, PFAS can be found in household products, food packaging and firefighting foam.

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EWG said low exposure to some PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened childhood immunity and many other health problems.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no drinking water standard for PFAS. Currently, lawmakers are working to pass a bill that would enforce regulations.

According to the EWG report, Duval and Clay counties had three locations with contamination: the Jacksonville International Airport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Camp Blanding.

The test results for JIA shows PFAS contamination in the groundwater on-base in 2018. The suspected source is firefighting foam. A representative from JIA told Action News Jax firefighting foam is used to contain fires at the airport, which is all regulated by the FAA.

Similar results were found at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The test results show PFOS=PFOA found in the groundwater on-base in 2018. The suspect source is also firefighting foam.

The test results for Camp Blanding found PFAS in its distribution system in 2017. Firefighting foam was also the suspected source.

Action News Jax has reached out to NAS Jax and Camp Blanding about these findings.

A statement from Camp Blanding reads in part, “We are aware of the current national issues regards PFAS, as it relates to contamination from the use of foam fire suppression compounds. However, there is no record of any of the subject foam fire suppression materials ever being used at Camp Blanding. There is currently a centralized management system run through the National Guard Bureau testing and monitoring. Camp Blanding had 126 distinct samples throughout the installation tested in April 2017. Our results were below the 70 ppt threshold established by the Army National Guard, so we now test every 3 years.”