PFAS – A Military Toxin

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that allow materials to repel water and oil. For this reason, PFAS are widely used by the military, generally in fire-suppressing foam.  PFAS has been found in the drinking and/or ground water on at least 206 military sites in the United States and has been used by the Department of Defense for nearly 50 years.  Its presence is suspected on 664 current or former military sites.  Almost every state has been affected according to Environmental Working Group (EWP).

The most common route of contamination for humans is ingestion, but there is also some concern around contamination through meat from livestock drinking in polluted areas.

According to a study conducted across 69,030 people, ages 18 and up by the ASTDR/CDC, probable links exist between elevated PFOA (one type of PFAS) blood levels and high cholesterol (hypercholesteremia), ulcerative colitis, thyroid function, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, preeclampsia, as well as elevated blood pressure during pregnancy. Residents in the studied area showed 500 percent higher PFOA-concentrations in their blood than their representative U.S. population counterparts.

In Animals, studies have shown the main health repercussions observed to be enlargement and changes in the function of the liver, changes in hormone levels (e.g., reduced testosterone synthesis, potential to affect T4 and TSH levels) and adverse developmental outcomes. Developmental and reproductive effects, including reduced birth weight, decreased gestational length, structural defects, delays in postnatal growth and development, increased neonatal mortality, and pregnancy loss have all been associated with prenatal rodent exposure to PFOS and PFOA (types of PFAS). The study’s authors, however, caution that more research and testing is needed.

One of the scarier aspects of PFAS chemicals is their resistance to being broken down or biodegradable, meaning the toxin accumulates in the host’s body over time rather than breaking down. This can lead to serious, sometimes even fatal health complications. It is often found in the tissue matter of mammals as well as the bloodstream.  Some studies have shown PFAS chemicals able to stay in the human body for up to a decade.

As of 2014, there were 664 current or former military fire- or crash-training sites, all of which are likely contaminated with PFAS chemicals. Also, as several states continue testing for PFAS contamination, it is highly possible that more military sites will be identified and added to the list.

If you or a loved one suspects they’ve been exposed to PFAS chemicals through their military service, contact Berry Law today to schedule a confidential consultation and get your appeal progressing.