DOD Moving Forward with Task Force to Address PFAS

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Robert H. McMahon heads the first DOD task force on PFAS control in Washington. Image Credit: Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew L. Carroll, DOD.

The Department of Defense (DOD) held its first PFAS Task Force meeting on August 9, 2019 to address how the chemicals have affected military facilities and their surrounding communities. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Bob McMahon says, “We have a responsibility to take care of our people, their families and the communities where we serve.”

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper announced on July 23, 2019 that the new task force would address per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their effects in communities near military installations that use the chemicals. The contaminants are found in a common firefighting foam used by the DOD known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). The DOD has already identified 401 active and former military installations of PFAS concern.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment Maureen Sullivan says, “DOD’s first priority is to address drinking water with PFOS and PFOA from DOD activities.” PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) are two types of PFAS that have been found in drinking water systems near DOD facilities.

Sullivan states that the DOD has tested all 524 water systems across the globe where the Department is the water purveyor and is working with suppliers to test systems where it purchases water. 24 DOD drinking water systems and 12 other systems have tested positive for PFAS levels above health advisory recommendations. The new task force continues to take action protecting communities affected by PFAS.

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