Navy: No funding for blood tests over contaminated water

AP News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2016 5:36 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — U.S. Navy officials say they won't fund blood tests for tens of thousands of suburban Philadelphia residents who may have been exposed to contaminated water.

Chemicals were found in public drinking water supplies two years ago near the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and the active Horsham Air Guard Station.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf asked the Navy and Air Force last month to fund tests for area residents.

The Intelligencer in Doylestown reports (http://bit.ly/29Du2D6 ) that Navy deputy assistant secretary Karnig Ohannessian sent a letter to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey saying federal public health officials recommended not conducting the tests.

Ohannessian said the tests won't help doctors determine current or future health risks related to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or guide treatment plans.

Ohannessian said the federal Environmental Protection Agency also has determined exposure to the chemicals can come from food, water, air and consumer and industrial products. The blood tests can't say where or how someone became exposed, he said.

PFOA and PFOS were widely used for decades at the military bases. The compounds are found in the firefighting foams that have been used on military bases throughout the country and in household items including food packaging.

More than a dozen public wells and 140 private wells in the area have been taken offline because of contamination. The Navy and the National Guard Bureau have taken responsibility for the contamination and agreed to pay about $19 million to provide replacement water and install filtration systems.

Wolf's spokesman, Jeffrey Sheridan, said the governor is disappointed and will look at options going forward.

Casey said it's "inexcusable" to refuse health screenings and blood tests to evaluate health effects and ease peoples' fears.

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Information from: The Intelligencer, http://www.theintell.com