The military has been drinking toxic water, and the White House tried to hide it

By Cale Guthrie Weissman

June 22, 2018

A month ago, Politico reported on a federal study conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that the White House and EPA head Scott Pruitt tried to suppress. The study looked into nationwide water contamination–and government officials feared its release would set off a “public relations nightmare.”

This week, the report finally saw the light of day and, according to The New Republic, it’s not pretty. It focuses on perfluoroalkyls (PFAS), which are commonly used throughout the country–“from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams.” PFAS are not safe for consumption and present a huge public health risk. Those who have come into contact with them claim to have had numerous health problems–including “spinal defects, thyroid problems, and hypertension.”

This new report does the deepest dive yet into the impact of PFAS and finds that they present even more of a health risk than originally thought. Even worse: Military personnel are at a greater risk of coming into contact with PFAS, given that the chemicals are used in firefighting foams. The New Republic writes: “Those foams have leached into the groundwater at the bases, and often the drinking water supply. Nearly three million Americans get their drinking water from Department of Defense systems.”

The EPA has told these military bases that their drinking water was safe and they had nothing to worry about. This report calls that notion significantly into questions. TNR goes on:

Military personnel often live on bases with their families, so those drinking contaminated water can include pregnant women and children—two populations especially vulnerable to PFAS. And these compounds can remain in the body for six to ten years.

So for months, the government had a report that said military families were likely coming into contact with a toxic chemical, and they fought to delay this information from coming out. Now we know, but it’s still unclear how people are trying to fix the problem.

You can read the full report here.