• Post officials say fort’s drinking water safe

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  • Staff report
    Fort Leavenworth is among more than 100 Department of Defense installations named in a recent Military Times article for having levels of two commonly used chemicals in its drinking water above new Environmental Protection Agency lifetime health advisory levels that were set in May 2016.
    Levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), exceeding the EPA’s lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion, were found in three of Fort Leavenworth’s water wells, which were taken off-line in December 2016 and January 2017.
    At a town hall meeting with housing mayors and other post leaders March 7, 2017, at the Resiliency Center, Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Chief Dale Cleland said testing results and appropriate actions to be taken would be shared with the community transparently and assured them that Fort Leavenworth’s drinking water is safe.
    “The drinking water on Fort Leavenworth meets all current regulatory standards as well as the current EPA recommended health advisory level for perfluorinated compounds,” Cleland told them. “Most recent sampling shows perfluorinated compound levels well below the EPA’s recommended health advisory level.”
    That statement is still accurate today, Cleland said.
    Monthly water samples have been analyzed since the March 2017 meeting. As the seasonal and river level conditions changed, so did the PFOA/PFOS levels, requiring continual management of the production wells. At the same time, the Army initiated several actions to ensure the water quality could meet the health advisory goal in the future, including drinking water plant changes, locating a new well site and developing redundant drinking water sources.
    PFOS and PFOA are used in many products, including haircare products, carpet, clothing, paper food wrappers and other materials resistant to water, grease and stains. They are also used in aqueous film forming foam, a product used by military and civilian fire departments.
    “The EPA health advisory for the perfluorinated compounds identifies drinking water as only 20 percent of the daily contact with these compounds for the typical consumer,” Cleland said. “Other uses include some non-stick surfaces, stain-proofing carpet and clothing, water-proofing products and wrinkle-resistant fabric, as well as some health and beauty products.”
    To learn more about PFOS and PFOA, visit https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos.
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