In May reports came out that showed the Trump administration, through Scott Pruitt’s EPA, were trying to hide a damning pollution study. Right around the same time as those reports on how bad water contamination was in the United States, and how little was actually being done by this administration, the EPA chief Scott Pruitt was having reporters thrown out of hearings on the subject. Now, a new report on water contamination by perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS, is out. And it’s damning as it shows that the Trump administration has been sitting on this information for a long time—worrying more about the public relations nightmare than actually solving the issue itself.
That is, until Wednesday. Amid a media firestorm about the administration’s immigration policy, the ATSDR—a division of the Department of Health and Human Services—quietly published its 852-page review of perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS, which are “used in everything from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams,” according to ProPublica. “All told, the report offers the most comprehensive gathering of information on the effects of these chemicals today, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously thought.”
These chemical compounds pose health risks to millions of Americans. They’re in roughly 1 percent of the nation’s public water supply, according to the EPA; in roughly 1,500 drinking water systems across the country, according to the Environmental Working Group. People who drink from these systems, even if their exposure to PFAS is low, now have a potentially increased risk of cancer; of disruptions in hormones and the immune system; and of complications with fetal development during pregnancy.
The issue is even more immediate for military personnel and their families living around military bases because PFAS are found in firefighting foams that have been used in training exercises for decades. The levels of PFAS that have leached into the ground and contaminated the water sources in those areas, considerably higher.
The EPA had been assuring people who lived on these bases that they were safe from the potentially harmful effects of PFAS—which range in severity from weight gain to liver disease to cancer—at levels of 70 parts per trillion. But the new ATSDR study says safe levels were actually much lower, from 7 to 11 parts per trillion.
In an April report at the Military Times, testing had found that “In all, 25 Army bases; 50 Air Force bases, 49 Navy or Marine Corps bases and two Defense Logistics Agency sites have tested at higher than acceptable levels for the compounds in either their drinking water or groundwater sources.”
This isn’t the only place where the Republican anti-science political machine is hurting our military. It’s already known that the Trump administration has been trying to excise the use of “climate change” in strategical planning for our national security—which is not simply dumb, it’s deadly.
This administration has already shown its disdain for both immigrant children and American born children. So children in American military families need not feel left out. The message from Republicans is clear: big business is more important than your health.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.