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“Forever Chemicals” Found in Phoenix Metro Area

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by Patrick J. Paul

On February 23, 2021 the US Air Force issued a press release announcing its distribution of bottled water to homeowners and businesses immediately east of Luke Air Force Base following the discovery of Perfluoroctanoic (PFOA) and Perfluoroctane Sulfonate (PFOS) in drinking water samples.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center recently conducted sampling at water distribution points that provide water to users in the area to determine the levels of PFOA and PFOS and determined that certain samples exceeded US EPA lifetime health advisory limits of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS for drinking water. In addition to making bottled water available, the Air Force also will install a filtration system upstream of the impacted distribution points to mitigate the exceedances.

The Air Force also published a summary of its response actions to the forever chemicals.

Similar chemicals also were identified at the former Williams Air Force Base, now Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus. Importantly, however, the City of Mesa clarified that its water is “clean, safe and meets all state and federal drinking water standards.” Consequently, Mesa has no need to coordinate bottled water distribution.

The increasing evidence of PFOA and PFOS compounds in and around military bases will continue to draw attention from environmental regulators and locally impacted residents and businesses.