Congress is currently looking at a bill that if passed would eliminate the use of fluorinated chemicals used at air bases around the country. Certain per-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are used in the manufacturing of firefighting foam, have been linked to reproductive issues, various types of cancer, suppression of the immune system, and birth defects.
The bill, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, has already passed in the House (393 to 13) and now awaits the vote from the Senate.
A History of Unsafe Environments
It has been known for years that in certain concentrations, the chemical compounds could be extremely dangerous if they made their way into the water. The Navy initially used the foam in the 1960s to train firefighters and put out any fires on the airbase, repel water, oil, and stains. Over time private companies and international militaries began using it too.
Now years later, according to a report at the Department of Defense, the chemicals used in the foam have contaminated at least 401 U.S. military installations. Studies are ongoing. The Department is aware of 644 sites where the foam has been used.
Lawsuits Surrounding the Contamination of Local Water Sources by PFC
In recent years there have been multiple lawsuits regarding local water sources becoming contaminated by PFC. In Washington, there is a class action lawsuit of almost 100 plaintiffs against the manufacturers of the firefighting foam, due to their claim that the PFC contaminated their local water sources, resulting in decreased property values and major health issues.
In the Southeast corner of Pennsylvania, the residents of Warminster suffered a wide array of illnesses ranging from brain cancer to melanoma, to weakened immune systems when the area around the Naval Air Warfare Center became extremely contaminated by PCFs.
The Immense Suffering of Numerous Communities
Negligence on the part of the Department of Defense among other related parties has caused immense suffering. Prior to the National Leadership Summit on PFCs (organized by the Environmental Protection Agency), it was revealed that the White House along with the Environmental Protection Agency gave the order to suppress an Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry report, calling it a “public relations nightmare.”
The report found that certain PFCs are unsafe at much lower levels than previously believed – some even 10 times lower than reported in 2016. The first analysis found that one chemical, PFAS, is known to be the most harmful – and subsequently 24 times more prevalent in public drinking water than the Environmental Protection Agency had previously reported.
The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, which has done much research on pollution, now estimates that up to 110 million Americans are at risk of exposure to these chemicals. According to a statement that was released, currently, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the Senate “is seeking an opportunity for floor consideration for the bill.”
Posted in: Product Liability