Drinking water from the Coraopolis Water and Sewer Authority showed PFAS contamination among the highest levels found in the state, though still below the federal health advisory level, according to test results released Thursday by the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP].
The township engineer said workers discovered the possible contamination during a monthly meter reading on Oct. 22 and it was impossible to say at what point, over the previous month, the contamination might have occurred. It could’ve happened all at once, the day before the testing, he said, or "it could’ve come out very slowly over a period of 30 days. We really can’t answer that."
To further educate local residents and environmental groups about the threat of PFAS, PublicSource and Environmental Health News hosted a special forum on Sept. 12 at the Marriott Hotel near the Pittsburgh International Airport. The military bases near the airport are identified sites of PFAS contamination, and the airport is a potential source of contamination as well, according to reports from former firefighters, airport records, expert scientists and a military study. The panel included: Carla Ng, a PFAS researcher at the University of Pittsburgh; Lisa Daniels, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's director of the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water; Melanie Benesh, the legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that has done extensive PFAS research; Hope Grosse and Joanne Stanton, residents in Eastern Pennsylvania who have lived near PFAS contamination (via video chat); and Caitlin Berretta, the manager of business development at Evoqua, a company headquartered in Pittsburgh that does PFAS remediation. Editor's note: This event was part of an ongoing collaboration between Environmental Health News and PublicSource on PFAS contamination in Pennsylvania and was funded in part through the Bridge Pittsburgh Media Partnership.
PublicSource spoke to five former firefighters who worked there between 1972 and 2010 about how the PFAS-containing firefighting foam was typically used. Their accounts, along with the military review, airport records and scientists who study PFAS, indicate that contamination at the airport is likely.
Pennsylvania has already identified at least 23 sites of PFAS contamination, and officials are struggling to address the threat of contaminated drinking water throughout the state. A DEP spokesperson told EHN that given the agency’s limited resources, the Pennsylvania PFAS Action Team hasn’t even begun to consider tackling potential food contamination yet.
According to a recent report from the U.S. National Guard, toxic firefighting foam has, over time, contaminated the surface and groundwater at two military bases at the southeast end of the airport, fewer than 1.5 miles from Chromack’s home.
The National Guard's report studying contamination of PFAS chemicals on two Pittsburgh-area military bases lists several times when toxic firefighting foam escaped into drainage outfalls, streams and local storm and sewage drains.
Thousands of Pennsylvanians are being exposed to dangerous chemicals in their drinking water—many without knowing it—and some experts feel state agencies aren’t moving quickly enough to protect residents.
Pennsylvania environmental officials are bracing for a future filled with lawsuits and angry citizens as the state tries to get a handle on widespread chemical contamination that some other states have already begun to mitigate.