Non-critical amount of toxic chemicals found in private wells

The entrance to Cannon Air Base near Clovis. (Source: US Air Force)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

None of the 57 private water wells sampled in Curry and Roosevelt counties showed dangerous levels of PFAS, the toxic “forever chemicals” that leaked from the fire foam used at the air base. de Cannon near Clovis.

The New Mexico Department of the Environment worked with the US Geological Survey from April to June to sample agricultural and drinking water wells for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

The state legislature funded the $ 100,000 testing program in 2020.

“This (data collection) effort provides regulators, residents and businesses with critical information about the safety of our water supply and adds to our growing body of knowledge about the presence of these harmful chemicals in eastern Canada. New Mexico, ”said Environment Secretary James Kenney. .

Nine wells had low concentrations of PFAS chemicals that are well within the safety standards of other states, according to results released Monday.

The remaining 48 wells detected no PFAS.

No tests have detected PFOA or PFOS, two types of PFAS compounds with a United States Environmental Protection Agency lifetime health notice of 70 parts per trillion.

Strong chemical bonds are ideal for waterproofing agents and non-stick pans. But PFAS remain in the blood indefinitely.

The EPA links exposure to low birth weight, high cholesterol, and certain cancers.

John Kern, director of the community group Clean Water Partnership in Cannon, which has helped recruit landowners to have their wells tested, said the state study is a “good place to start.”

But military and state agencies shouldn’t take the sampling as a sign that cleanup can wait, Kern said, and should perform “more methodical” testing on residents’ water and blood.

“Because that’s the real problem… not just how PFAS manifested in a glass of tap water, but how it could have physically affected the residents here,” Kern said.

The NMED results were announced the same day the EPA released a strategy to tackle PFAS pollution.

The federal agency will move towards applicable drinking water standards for chemicals and limit industrial discharges of PFAS into waterways.

Kenney and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham have called on the government to put PFAS on the hazardous waste list.

“My state needs this designation in order to act quickly and protect its citizens, water, economy and environment from further contamination from this state’s biggest PFAS polluters,” Lujan Grisham wrote in a letter. June at the EPA.

The state is suing the Department of Defense for the contamination of Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases.

Theresa Davis is a member of the Report for America body covering Water and the Environment for the Albuquerque Journal.

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