In August 2023, the Workplace of the Assistant Secretary of Protection for Vitality, Installations, and Surroundings and the Workplace of the Assistant Secretary of Protection for Industrial Base Coverage launched a report wherein they claimed:1
“PFAS are chemically fairly steady, and lots of are water and oil repellent, warmth resistant, and/or stain resistant … DoD is reliant on the critically vital chemical and bodily properties of PFAS to offer required efficiency for the applied sciences and consumable gadgets and articles which allow army readiness and sustainment.
Shedding entry to PFAS attributable to overly broad rules or extreme market contractions would vastly impression nationwide safety and DoD’s capacity to satisfy its mission …”
PFAS are fluorinated chemical compounds which are identified to be endocrine disruptors and are identified to speed up metabolic modifications within the physique. For the reason that 1999-2000 survey, the Nationwide Well being and Vitamin Examination Survey (NHANES) has measured blood serum PFAS in adults and kids and launched the info each two years.2
Biomonitoring research have additionally measured ranges from occupational publicity, communities which have contaminated ingesting water, and all through the final inhabitants.
The Company for Poisonous Substances and Illness Registry (ATSDR) notes that whereas blood ranges for PFOS and PFOA have declined as use has declined, publicity to different PFAS chemical compounds could rise. Information present that the very best publicity is occupational and in communities which have been uncovered, most of their water provide.3
Division of Protection Report ‘Fell Quick in Effort and Scope’
As ATSDR has famous, the NHANES has acknowledged that rising serum values of PFAS could have indicated a major well being danger since 1999. As KFF Well being Information studies,4 a DoD research in 1974 demonstrated the chemical was deadly to fish and in 1983 a report confirmed it was lethal to mice.
Regardless of this data, it’s obvious from the next actions of the army that they weren’t defending service women and men. As demonstrated by a photograph launch from the Protection Visible Info Distribution Service5 in 2013, personnel working with out protecting gear on Travis Air Pressure Base, California, have been surrounded by mounds of PFAS-laced firefighting foam.
James M. Inhofe Nationwide Protection Authorization Act for Fiscal Yr 20236 authorizes appropriations for army actions of the Division of Protection and requires the evaluation of PFAS chemical compounds in army merchandise and tools. This prompted the August 2023 DoD report back to Congress wherein the DoD claimed PFAS chemical compounds have been important and eliminating them might undermine army readiness.7
In keeping with the report,8 a lot of the weapon platforms incorporate these chemical compounds, together with microelectronic chips and lithium ion batteries. The chemical compounds are additionally utilized in a wide range of uniform clothes, footwear, tents and duffel baggage.
For greater than 50 years, the DoD has used PFAS-laced firefighting foam and contaminated at the very least 359 army websites or close by communities, with over 200 others underneath investigation. But, the report didn’t tackle well being issues. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) informed KFF Well being Information that the “report lacked acknowledgment of the well being dangers or issues posed by PFAS and ignored the supply of PFAS-free replacements for materials, tents and duffel baggage.”9
In keeping with David Andrews, senior scientist at EWG, the report fell brief. “It’s type of like that report you flip in in school, once you get a remark again that you just did the minimal quantity attainable,” Andrews mentioned. Along with this, Andrews notes that the federal government has not proposed banning PFAS chemical compounds as was alluded to within the report.
“The statements are utterly unsubstantiated, and it’s nearly a fear-mongering assertion,” Andrews mentioned. “I believe the assertion is de facto going past something that’s even being thought of within the regulatory house.”
Kevin Fay, government director of the Sustainable PFAS Motion Community, a coalition of organizations and researchers who assist PFAS compound use, informed KFF Well being Information10 that utilizing a one-size-fits-all method “will gravely hurt nationwide safety and financial competitiveness.”
Research Exhibits Direct Affiliation Between One PFAS Chemical and Most cancers
The Congressional report was printed one month after a 2023 analysis research11 confirmed what a number of different research have proven previously — firefighters have the next price of testicular most cancers than folks in different occupations, which factors to the presence of PFAS in firefighting foam.
The distinction was this federal research demonstrated for the primary time a direct affiliation between serum ranges of PFOS, a chemical within the PFAS household, and testicular most cancers. The researchers examined blood serum drawn from Air Pressure servicemen and banked on the Division of Protection Serum Repository.
They gathered knowledge from 530 Air Pressure servicemen with a analysis of testicular germ cell tumors and 530 controls that have been matched for a number of elements together with ethnicity, race, delivery date, the 12 months they entered the service and the 12 months the pattern was collected. The researchers discovered elevated concentrations of some PFAS chemical compounds within the blood provide of these employed in firefighting within the army and at bases the place there was a excessive PFAS focus within the ingesting water.
Elevated ranges of PFOS have been related to testicular germ cell tumors. “To my information, that is the primary research to measure PFAS ranges within the U.S. army inhabitants and to research associations with a most cancers endpoint on this inhabitants, in order that brings new proof to the desk,” Mark Purdue, senior investigator at NCI and co-author of the research, informed KFF Well being Information.12
Testicular most cancers has a excessive price of analysis in energetic army personnel aged 18 to 40 years who’re in peak bodily situation. It was the age distribution and publicity to PFAS contamination that prompted the researchers to search for a attainable connection.13
Kevin Ferrara, a retired Air Pressure firefighter, informed KFF Well being Information that the Air Pressure barely warned of any risks. “We have been informed that it was simply cleaning soap and water, utterly innocent,” Ferrara mentioned. “We have been utterly slathered within the foam — palms, mouth, eyes. It appeared identical to for those who have been going to replenish your sink with dish cleaning soap.”14
Ferrara doesn’t have most cancers however has different well being issues he attributes to his publicity to PFAS. Whereas the Division of Veterans Affairs doesn’t presently advocate blood testing,15 KFF Well being Information studies that the Congressional PFAS job power launched an act that may require the VA to deal with situations which are linked to PFAS publicity in addition to present incapacity advantages.16
Extra Well being Dangers Related With PFAS Chemical Household
KFF Well being Information describes the case of Gary Flook, who served within the Air Pressure for 37 years as a firefighter. Flook didn’t converse to KFF Well being Information as he’s a part of a 3M class motion lawsuit filed in August 2022.17 June 22, 2023,18 3M agreed to pay $10.3 billion to roughly 300 communities in a multidistrict litigation to assist clear up PFAS chemical compounds within the water provide.
There are a further 3,000 claims which are nonetheless unsettled. Michael London of the New York regulation agency Douglas & London is representing plaintiffs within the metropolis of Stuart, Florida. He informed Time, “There are additionally 5,000, maybe 6,000 people who’ve introduced private damage circumstances [nationwide].”19
One 2023 research20 printed in a Lancet publication, eBioMedicine, discovered an affiliation between publicity to PFAS and an elevated price of thyroid most cancers. The researchers famous that this can be a worldwide concern, given the ever-present nature of PFAS publicity.
One analysis crew defined that an accumulation of epigenetic occasions induced by PFAS publicity can “synergistically amplify tumorigenicity and most cancers development,” including that immune system suppression and continual irritation additionally possible play a job. Endocrine-disrupting chemical compounds that accumulate in physique tissue may also result in fatty liver illness.
“This bioaccumulation,” researchers wrote in Environmental Well being Views, “coupled with the lengthy half-lives of many PFAS, results in concern in regards to the potential for PFAS to disrupt liver homeostasis ought to they proceed to build up in human tissue even when industrial use is abated.”21
The researcher’s systematic evaluation and meta-analysis in contrast publicity to liver damage. The info confirmed increased ranges of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) indicating liver injury with publicity to a number of PFAS chemical compounds. Publicity to PFOA was additionally linked to increased aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase ranges — two extensively used markers of liver illness — in people.
One other 2022 research22 printed within the American Coronary heart Affiliation journal Hypertension confirmed ladies with the very best focus of PFAS chemical compounds of their bloodstream additionally had a 71% elevated danger of hypertension. In keeping with the Endocrine Society, PFAS publicity could contribute to:23
Testicular most cancers
Kidney most cancers
Being pregnant-induced hypertension
Altered levels of cholesterol
Liver and kidney injury
Altered immune response
Low delivery weights
Tumors and most cancers
U.S. Army Needs to Feed Plastic to Service Males and Girls
Apparently, American servicemen and girls usually are not uncovered to sufficient plastic air pollution on army bases and within the meals and water provide. In 2020 Iowa State College introduced that the Protection Superior Analysis Tasks Company (DARPA) awarded the College and companions a $2.7 million grant to create a course of that may make meals from plastic and paper waste.24
The army hopes to make use of this to feed the women and men who’ve devoted their lives to defending this nation. They imagine the flexibility to show paper and plastic waste merchandise right into a consumable might assist with short-term “nourishment” and enhance army logistics for prolonged missions. They estimate the entire award might attain $7.8 million earlier than the mission ends.25
The proposed system hopes to transform plastic waste into fatty alcohols and fatty acids and paper into sugar that may then be bioprocessed by single-cell organisms into an edible mass wealthy in protein and nutritional vitamins. In different phrases, the hope is that microorganisms within the lab can do what these within the setting and ocean can not — convert endocrine-disrupting chemical compounds present in plastic into nutritional vitamins and proteins.
DARPA additionally awarded Michigan Tech26 and collaborating researchers $7.2 million to show plastic waste into protein powder and lubricants. In 2022, Stephen Techtmann’s lab introduced that they had certainly transformed plastic into one thing that smells like yeast extract. “However he [Techtmann] hasn’t tasted it. First, he desires to realize it’s secure, free from something that could be poisonous. It’s, in any case, produced from plastic.”27
In an period the place faux meat is valued over regeneratively and biodynamically grown actual meat,28 it would not take a lot to think about that the following step could possibly be plastic meals for all. DARPA is beginning with army women and men who put their lives on the road to guard our nation. Thanks a lot to your service. Right here’s a giant bowl of plastic.