News Release

U.S. Military Poisoning Nationally and Globally with Toxic Chemicals

The Guardian recently published the piece “The U.S. military is poisoning communities across the U.S. with toxic chemicals” by David Bond, a professor at Bennington College in Vermont, which states: “From Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Colorado Springs, Colorado, the last decade has witnessed communities near military bases waking up to a nightmare of PFAS contamination in their water, their soil and their blood.” Professor Bond highlighted the military origins of toxic PFAS chemicals that were incinerated in Cohoes, New York. Bond writes there is no evidence that incineration actually destroys these synthetic chemicals.
PAT ELDER, pelder@militarypoisons.org
Elder is the founder of MilitaryPoisons.org and has written extensively on the issue of the military’s reckless use of PFAS. Elder initially broke the story on the military’s shipment of PFAS materials to be incinerated at Norlite’s facility in Cohoes, New York.
Elder said today: “The military is poisoning people and the environment in the U.S. and worldwide through its careless use of PFAS in firefighting foams and in other military applications. Recent events in Vermont provide insight into the military’s intransigence.

“Vermont’s Senate recently passed a bill that would ban the use of PFAS in firefighting foams and other consumer products. PFAS are per-and-poly fluoroalkyl substances that are linked to a host of cancers, fetal abnormalities, and childhood diseases. The substances leach into surface water and drinking water from military installations — even those that were closed 30 years ago. The legislature reached out to the Vermont Air National Guard regarding the measure and were told the Guard no longer uses firefighting foam containing toxic PFAS. The Senate moved ahead with the measure with the knowledge that the bill would not affect the Guard.

“PFAS foams are used and stored at Guard bases across the country. Historically, the foams have contained PFOS and PFOA, two particularly deadly varieties of PFAS. The DOD has replaced these foams with other toxic variants of PFAS.

“In published reports the Air Force claims the legacy PFAS used at the burn pit on the Burlington Air National Guard base has been ‘removed and properly disposed of’ but the deadly chemicals continue to slowly leach off the Burlington base and into the Winooski River where PFAS levels have been found above 700 parts per trillion. The Air National Guard has not removed the chemicals and there is no known method for properly disposing of these toxins known as ‘forever chemicals.'”

Last year, Elder tested seawater, rockfish, crabs, and oysters at his home in Southern Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay and found the levels to be a threat to human health. See piece on his work in the Baltimore Sun: “Maryland to begin testing drinking water, Chesapeake Bay oysters for harmful ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS.”

Elder’s articles include a three-part series on contamination at the Burlington base, as well as a report on the contamination of rivers and fish near U.S. bases in Germany and an article on contamination in Okinawa, Japan.

He added: “PFAS is used on U.S. military installations worldwide, with widespread contamination reported in Belgium, South Korea, Guam and other locations. Drinking water, rivers and aquatic life have been poisoned.”