Rasheedah Sands still worries about any long-term health effects her son Jaden might have after living in Casal di Principe. The family now lives in base housing.

Rasheedah Sands still worries about any long-term health effects her son Jaden might have after living in Casal di Principe. The family now lives in base housing. (Lisa M. Novak/S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — The U.S. Navy announced it has dropped all water-testing requirements for renting off-base homes.

Officials say the risk of contamination is small enough not to require pre-leasing testing for either bacteria or volatile organic compounds.

"[W]e believe the possibility of discovering unacceptable VOC levels in tap water requiring additional families to relocate, while likely to happen, will be minimal in numbers," reads an all-hands e-mail released late last week.

The lifting of the testing requirements means the end of extended stays in temporary lodging for those transferring to Naples.

"Personnel will now be able to move into their selected home as soon as ‘traditional’ inspection items (health, safety, fire, security, etc.) are completed," according to the e-mail.

Some individuals have spent more than five months in temporary lodging once the pre-leasing testing requirement was imposed in September. The decision was based on the discovery of contaminants in homes selected for sampling as part of the health assessment. To date, the Navy has tested 223 homes prior to leasing.

Officials from the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center in Virginia began the health assessment last February to determine whether living in Naples and the surrounding locations poses a health hazard. The area has endured decades of uncollected trash, illegal garbage burning and toxic-waste dumping, leading to reported increases in cancer rates and respiratory problems.

Navy health officials have focused on homes supplied with well water as the main source of contamination, stating they were confident city water supplies were safe. But Tuesday’s statement also noted the presence of VOCs in the city water system as well.

"Although there were a number of VOC detections discovered in municipal tap water … none were found to be unacceptable," reads Tuesday’s announcement. "There were, however, a few unacceptable bacteria results which were resolved by proper cleaning and sanitizing of residential water distribution systems."

Levels of VOCs were found in the city water supply for all areas included in the health assessment. But levels were low enough that use of bottled water can minimize health risks, Navy officials say.

Based on the assessment’s findings to date, the Navy continues to provide off-base residents free bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth. Future leases will mandate landlords provide "containerized" drinking water to tenants.

The Navy also established three off-limits areas for all new leasing due to contamination. They include the towns of Villa Literno, Casal di Principe, Marcianise and Arzano. More than 370 Americans and their families who signed leases prior to the restriction, which took effect in November, still live in these areas.

Once the health assessment is completed later this year, officials will determine whether those areas will remain off-limits to new renters.

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