Groundwater and a few dozen private wells near Battle Creek Air National Guard base will be tested for PFAS contamination beginning Monday.
The family of toxic chemicals, known as PFAS, has been linked to certain forms of cancer as well as other health issues. The chemicals can be found in a wide variety of commercial products. For decades, The Air Force used a firefighting foam that contains two specific types of PFAS at bases across the country, including at the Battle Creek base.
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency established a Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion for exposure to those specific PFAS chemicals: PFOS and PFOA.
Soil and sediment samples will also be tested to determine if there’s any significant level of PFAS contamination on or near the base.
“At this point we don’t know if there’s actually contamination or not. This is purely precautionary,” said first lieutenant Andrew Layton. “Once we get those results back we’ll be as transparent as possible with that information."
Layton says 53 private wells will also be tested.
There is known PFAS contamination of groundwater near two other military bases in Michigan. Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, and Camp Grayling near Grayling have undergone similar testing for PFAS contamination.
Test results from samples near the Battle Creek Air National Guard base are expected in June.
“The data and site information gathered throughout this investigation are intended to protect human health and minimize our environmental impact,” said Col. Bryan Teff, base commander in a press release. “The Air National Guard is a community-based organization, so we take our commitment to being good neighbors with the citizens of Battle Creek very seriously.”
The Air Force has done preliminary testing at more than 200 “installations” across the country to investigate potential PFAS contamination in drinking water.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is also actively involved with the sampling of drinking wells around the base.
“We want to test as a precaution in order to determine if there is need for any further environmental investigation,” MDEQ spokesperson Melanie Brown said in the press release.