Assessment of PFAS Exposure to Begin in Communities Near U.S. Military Bases

Eight communities near current or former U.S. military installations—including Barnes Air National Guard Base near Westfield, MA—will be part of assessments to examine human expose to PFAS. The assessments will be led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and will begin in 2019 and continue through 2020.

The eight sites are:
Berkeley County (WV) near Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base
El Paso County (CO) near Peterson Air Force Base
Fairbanks North Star Borough (AK) near Eielson Air Force Base
Hampden County (MA) near Barnes Air National Guard Base
Lubbock County (TX) near Reese Technology Center
Orange County (NY) near Stewart Air National Guard Base
New Castle County (DE) near New Castle Air National Guard Base
Spokane County (WA) near Fairchild Air Force Base
The primary goal of these exposure assessments is to provide information to communities about levels of PFAS in their bodies. The results will help communities better understand the extent of their environmental exposures to PFAS and will lay the groundwork for a future multi-site health study that will look at the relationship between PFAS exposure and human health outcomes.

“The assessments will generate information about exposure to PFAS in affected communities and will extend beyond the communities identified, as the lessons learned can also be applied to communities facing similar PFAS drinking water exposures. This will serve as a foundation for future studies evaluating the impact of PFAS exposure on human health,” said Patrick Breysse, Ph.D., director, CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the ATSDR. People in each of these communities will be selected randomly to participate in the exposure assessments, and participants will have their PFAS levels checked via blood and urine samples. The sampling results from participants can give scientists information about community-level exposure.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1950s. They have been used in non-stick cookware; water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets; some cosmetics; some firefighting foams; and products that resist grease, water, and oil. Scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposure to PFAS. Some studies have shown that PFAS exposure may affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children; lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant; interfere with the body’s natural hormones; increase cholesterol levels; affect the immune system; and increase the risk of cancer.

Read the full press release