(Tribune News Service) — Navy, state and Frederick County, Md., officials on Wednesday gave residents near Camp David a crash course on "forever chemicals" and the Navy's efforts to identify and potentially remediate any possible contamination near the base.

The Navy was scheduled to begin testing residential wells near a one-mile radius of Camp David on Thursday due to past base operations that could have resulted in the release of chemical compounds known as PFAS through firefighting foam.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are called "forever chemicals" due to their ability to persist in humans and the environment for an extended period of time.

The open house at Camp Round Meadow in Catoctin Mountain Park on Wednesday included multiple stations with informational displays providing a timeline on the Navy's efforts to identify PFAS contamination at Navy facilities nationwide and near Camp David.

Each station was accompanied by Navy officials and an array of employees from the Maryland Department of the Environment, Frederick County Health Department and the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.

Officials answered attendees' questions and explained the PFAS testing process and the chemicals' potential human health impacts.

One display showed results of drinking water tests for PFAS on-base at Camp David.

The highest concentration detected on-base of a related compound known as PFOA was 9.46 parts per trillion (PPT), and the highest concentration of another compound known as PFOS was 5.92 ppt.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued interim health advisories for PFOA and PFOS last year that contend that combined concentrations of the two chemicals as low as 0.024 ppt pose a risk to human health over a lifetime of exposure.

The Navy and Department of Defense, however, are using the EPA's 2016 threshold of 70 ppt, the last regulatory standard the EPA released. The EPA is expected to release a finalized standard this year.

Any resident with a well within the Navy's radius that tests for PFAS levels above 70 ppt will be supplied with bottled water "until a long-term solution can be implemented," according to the Navy.

The Navy expects to receive preliminary test results within one month of collecting samples. The Navy said it will contact a resident with the test results within 24 hours.

(c)2023 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)

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