Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) was detected in the blood of West Virginia residents and found at almost 250 Department of Defense sites in groundwater or drinking water or both.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), at 30 of those DOD sites containing PFHxS, the chemical was found at even greater levels in groundwater than at Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base. It is unknown whether residents of communities near the 30 sites have been exposed to PFHxS in their drinking water, however.
The CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported the high levels of PFHxS in the blood of Berkeley County residents, as they had levels nearly three times higher than those of the general U.S. population.
PFHxS is one of the most-studied PFAS compounds and exposure to PFHxS is associated with impacts on the immune system, and developmental and reproductive harm, among other health concerns, reported EWG.
The approximate 250 bases with detectable levels of PFHxS in groundwater or drinking water or both are located in all 50 states and two territories. DOD bases are the most likely sources of water contamination from different types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and industrial discharges are responsible for these contaminants as well.
The final version of Congress’ National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 includes $517 million in funding to clean up the toxic PFAS, reported EWG. One of the requirements included in the act is for the DOD to publish and make publicly available results of drinking and groundwater testing for PFAS conducted on or near military installations, formerly used defense sites and National Guard sites.