PFAS – Per and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substance Pollution and the US Military

“For decades, 3M was a leading producer of the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS. As early as the 1950s, 3M’s own studies showed that PFAS chemicals built up in blood, and by the 1960s, 3M’s own animal studies showed the potential for harm. Yet 3M continued to produce PFAS chemicals without notifying its employees of the risks.”

Environmental Working Group 


(CNN) — The US Food and Drug Administration confirmed that PFAS chemicals have made their way into the US food supply.

On Monday, the FDA publicly acknowledged the initial findings of the agency’s investigation into how the “forever chemicals” have been detected in the foods we eat.

PFAS is a family of nearly 5,000 synthetic chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and in our bodies. PFAS is short for perfluoroalky and polyfluoroalkyl substances and includes chemicals known as PFOS, PFOA and GenX, sometimes called forever chemicals. These chemicals all share signature elemental bonds of fluorine and carbon, which are extremely strong and difficult to break down in the environment or in our bodies.

These chemicals can easily migrate into the air, dust, food, soil and water and can accumulate in the body. They’ve been linked to adverse health impacts including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.

In the body, PFAS chemicals primarily settle into the blood, kidney and liver. A study from 2007 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that PFAS chemicals could be detected in the blood of 98% of the US population…”

FDA Confirms PFAS Chemicals In US Food Supply 


PFAS Contamination in the US – PFAS Project

They knew.  The military and the manufacturers knew for years and didn’t reveal it to the public. 

~ “Despite knowing about the potential health hazards of firefighting foam made with toxic PFAS chemicals, the Department of Defense continued to use aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, for decades… The Navy worked with 3M to develop AFFF in the early 1960s and sought to patent the firefighting foam in 1963.”



~ Executives at Dupont and other companies decided to save some money, instead of disposing of these hazardous chemicals properly,  they dumped them into our rivers and into our water supplies.

DuPont vs. the World: Chemical Giant Covered Up Health Risks of Teflon Contamination Across Globe

The final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposal to base F-35 military jets at the Truax Air National Guard Base was released earlier this week, confirming community leaders’ concerns about the impact of the F-35s on the health and safety of Madison residents.

Today on the show, Allen is joined by Alder Rebecca Kemble and investigative journalist Pat Elder to discuss PFAS and water contamination near military bases, opposition to F-35s, the relationship between the Department of Defense and the environment, and more.

Military PFAS Forever Chemicals and Water Pollution

  • “In 2009 PFAS were listed as persistent organic pollutant under the Stockholm Convention, due to their ubiquitous, persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic nature.” – Wikipedia – Stockholm Conventions 
  •  There have been studies connecting PFAS chemicals to harmful health effects going back for decades. This example includes studies in 2009, 1977, 1968 etc… Toxicology Data Network – Human Health Effects moved to NLM
  • “In animal studies, some long-chain PFASs have been found to cause liver toxicity, disruption of lipid metabolism and the immune and endocrine systems, adverse neurobehavioral effects, neonatal toxicity and death, and tumors in multiple organ systems.”
    US NLM: The Madrid Statement on Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs)



“America is experiencing one of the greatest public health crises in its history with up to 110 Million people potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with Per and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS. A major source of the chemical contamination comes from the aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) used in routine fire-training on military bases. The military allows the poisons to leach in the groundwater to contaminate neighboring communities which use groundwater in their wells and municipal water systems.”

The Military is Poisoning America’s Ground Water – Pat Elder

“Per-flouro octane-sulfo-nate or PFOS, and Per-flouro-octa-noic acid or PFOA, are the active ingredients in the foam routinely used to train soldiers to extinguish aircraft fires at US military bases around the world. The toxic chemicals are allowed to leach into surrounding soil to poison groundwater. The result is one of the greatest water contamination epidemics in human history.

Doubt that? Click on Google News and enter: “PFOS PFAO Military Base.” Then, come back and read the rest of this article – and brace yourself. It’s bad.

The water in thousands of wells in and around US military installations across the globe have been tested and have been shown to contain harmful levels of PFOS and PFOA.

…The EPA developed the nonregulatory Health Advisory Program in 1978 to provide information to the public on pollutants associated with short-term contamination spills that can affect drinking water quality but are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA lists Health Advisories for more than 200 contaminants, including FFOS and PFOA. Many of these contaminants are strictly regulated by nations around the world, but they’re OK for Americans to drink.

In the absence of federal leadership on the issue, some states, including New Jersey, have started to regulate the chemicals at much lower limits than the EPA’s. New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection is implementing its first tough PFAS regulation. Contamination of water wells at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was as high as 264,300 ppt, and that’s just fine with the EPA.

The EPA continues to approve new equally toxic PFAS chemicals despite widespread contamination. America, it seems, is a criminal enterprise.”

An Empire of Bases Poisons Water, Threatening Its Own Collapse

“In a March report provided to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon for the first time publicly listed the full scope of the known contamination. The Defense Department identified 401 active and Base Closure and Realignment installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of perfluorinated compounds …The man-made chemicals, which can be used to make items heat or water resistant, are found in everyday household, food and clothing items, even take-out food wrappers. At military bases, however, they are concentrated in the foam used to put out aircraft fires.”

Department of Defense: At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects – Military Times  

Wisconsin’s new governor, Tony Evers declared 2019 to be the “Year of Clean Drinking Water.” Tony said during the announcement: “People in Wisconsin want to make sure that they can drink their water safely. But what is being done to protect our water from PFAS? What is being done to hold the polluters accountable? There has been $1.6 million set aside for homeowners to remediate contaminated wells. What will it cost to fix what the military and corporations like 3M, Dupont and Tyco have been poisoning for decades? [I would imagine the cost will be in the billions.]

The politicians talk about limits.

We should have a ban. Except, they say they need toxic foam to put out composite fires. 

There should be long term testing before new chemicals are used.



“Exposure to PFAS at even the lowest concentrations has been shown to harm human health and puts people in communities with contaminated drinking water at risk. Recent science suggests that newer PFAS chemicals may be just as toxic and harder to treat as those that were phased out…”

Short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in aquatic systems: Occurrence, impacts and treatment

We need to be testing people for PFAS related chemicals in their blood. Some of the highest priority testing should be testing firefighters and EMT’s, and other emergency responders.

These people signed up to risk their lives to save us, they did not sign up to get cancer or colitis or developmental disorders because corporations didn’t test their product and then covered up the harm they knew they were causing.

• In a recent Wisconsin State Journal article, Chris Hubbuch explained “…The human-made compounds – found in firefighting foam, food packaging, non-stick cookware, water-resistant clothing, carpeting and other products — have been shown to increase the risk of cancer and other ailments.”

The corporate media and politicians are minimizing the problem. These chemicals cause cancer. and the other ailments include disrupting our endocrine system, they mimic our hormones causing a variety of developmental issues, among them:

  • attention deficit disorder
  • autism
  • testicular cancer 
  • hyperactivity
  • oppositional defiant disorder
  • obesity
  • immune function problems
  • fertility issues
  • ulcerative colitis
  • high cholesterol
  • pregnancy-induced hypertension & preeclampsia
  • and on and on… 

The more research that is done, the more the science tells us that it takes less and less of these chemicals to cause harm. 

PFAS Resources:

  1. PFAS Community Partners [CSWAB]
  2. Municipal Water Coalition – PFAS [League of WI Municipalities]
  4. Centers for Disease Control” Effects of PFAS Forever Chemicals
  5. CDC PFAS “Fact” Sheet
  6. Environmental Protection Agency PFAS Basic Info