In August 2023, the Workplace of the Assistant Secretary of Protection for Vitality, Installations, and Atmosphere and the Workplace of the Assistant Secretary of Protection for Industrial Base Coverage launched a report during which they claimed:1
“PFAS are chemically fairly secure, and lots of are water and oil repellent, warmth resistant, and/or stain resistant … DoD is reliant on the critically necessary chemical and bodily properties of PFAS to supply required efficiency for the applied sciences and consumable gadgets and articles which allow army readiness and sustainment.
Shedding entry to PFAS as a result of overly broad rules or extreme market contractions would significantly impression nationwide safety and DoD’s capacity to meet its mission …”
PFAS are fluorinated chemical substances which are recognized to be endocrine disruptors and are recognized to speed up metabolic adjustments within the physique. For the reason that 1999-2000 survey, the Nationwide Well being and Diet Examination Survey (NHANES) has measured blood serum PFAS in adults and youngsters and launched the info each two years.2
Biomonitoring research have additionally measured ranges from occupational publicity, communities which have contaminated consuming water, and all through the overall 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 substances could rise. Knowledge present that the 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 threat since 1999. As KFF Well being Information reviews,4 a DoD examine in 1974 demonstrated the chemical was deadly to fish and in 1983 a report confirmed it was lethal to mice.
Regardless of this information, 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, had been surrounded by mounds of PFAS-laced firefighting foam.
James M. Inhofe Nationwide Protection Authorization Act for Fiscal 12 months 20236 authorizes appropriations for army actions of the Division of Protection and requires the evaluation of PFAS chemical substances in army merchandise and tools. This prompted the August 2023 DoD report back to Congress during which the DoD claimed PFAS chemical substances had been essential and eliminating them may undermine army readiness.7
In response to the report,8 many of the weapon platforms incorporate these chemical substances, together with microelectronic chips and lithium ion batteries. The chemical substances are additionally utilized in quite a lot of uniform clothes, footwear, tents and duffel luggage.
For greater than 50 years, the DoD has used PFAS-laced firefighting foam and contaminated not less than 359 army websites or close by communities, with over 200 others beneath 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 provision of PFAS-free replacements for materials, tents and duffel luggage.”9
In response to David Andrews, senior scientist at EWG, the report fell quick. “It’s sort of like that report you flip in in school, whenever 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 substances as was alluded to within the report.
“The statements are fully unsubstantiated, and it’s virtually a fear-mongering assertion,” Andrews mentioned. “I believe the assertion is admittedly going past something that’s even being thought-about within the regulatory house.”
Kevin Fay, government director of the Sustainable PFAS Motion Community, a coalition of organizations and researchers who help PFAS compound use, informed KFF Well being Information10 that utilizing a one-size-fits-all method “will gravely hurt nationwide safety and financial competitiveness.”
Examine Exhibits Direct Affiliation Between One PFAS Chemical and Most cancers
The Congressional report was revealed one month after a 2023 analysis examine11 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 examine 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 information from 530 Air Pressure servicemen with a prognosis of testicular germ cell tumors and 530 controls that had been matched for a number of elements together with ethnicity, race, beginning 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 substances 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 consuming water.
Elevated ranges of PFOS had been related to testicular germ cell tumors. “To my information, that is the primary examine 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 examine, informed KFF Well being Information.12
Testicular most cancers has a excessive price of prognosis 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 had been informed that it was simply cleaning soap and water, fully innocent,” Ferrara mentioned. “We had been fully slathered within the foam — palms, mouth, eyes. It appeared similar to in the event you had been going to refill 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 at present suggest blood testing,15 KFF Well being Information reviews that the Congressional PFAS job drive launched an act that might require the VA to deal with circumstances 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 substances within the water provide.
There are an extra 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 harm instances [nationwide].”19
One 2023 examine20 revealed in a Lancet publication, eBioMedicine, discovered an affiliation between publicity to PFAS and an elevated price of thyroid most cancers. The researchers famous that it is a worldwide concern, given the ever-present nature of PFAS publicity.
One analysis workforce 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 power irritation additionally probably play a job. Endocrine-disrupting chemical substances that accumulate in physique tissue can even 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 assessment and meta-analysis in contrast publicity to liver harm. The information confirmed larger ranges of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) indicating liver harm with publicity to a number of PFAS chemical substances. Publicity to PFOA was additionally linked to larger aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase ranges — two extensively used markers of liver illness — in people.
One other 2022 examine22 revealed within the American Coronary heart Affiliation journal Hypertension confirmed girls with the best focus of PFAS chemical substances of their bloodstream additionally had a 71% elevated threat of hypertension. In response to 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 harm
Altered immune response
Low beginning weights
Tumors and most cancers
U.S. Navy Desires 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 Initiatives Company (DARPA) awarded the College and companions a $2.7 million grant to create a course of that might 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 may assist with short-term “nourishment” and enhance army logistics for prolonged missions. They estimate the whole award may attain $7.8 million earlier than the challenge ends.25
The proposed system hopes to transform plastic waste into fatty alcohols and fatty acids and paper into sugar that might 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 substances 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 they’d certainly transformed plastic into one thing that smells like yeast extract. “However he [Techtmann] hasn’t tasted it. First, he desires to comprehend it’s secure, free from something that could be poisonous. It’s, in any case, constituted of plastic.”27
In an period the place pretend meat is valued over regeneratively and biodynamically grown actual meat,28 it does not take a lot to think about that the subsequent step might 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 in your service. Right here’s an enormous bowl of plastic.