Senators demand feds release Wright AFB groundwater toxicology study
By BARRIE BARBER | Dayton Daily News, Ohio | Published: June 12, 2018
(Tribune News Service) — U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are among a bipartisan group of 10 senators who have demanded the Trump administration release a toxicology study that could recommend lower threshold advisories for exposure to chemicals found in groundwater at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and other installations across the country.
The senators wrote in the June 8 letter they had "deep concerns" with media reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had blocked the results of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services chemical pollution study that reportedly showed lower thresholds of the contaminants could pose a hazard to human health.
"The results of this study are critical to protecting the health and well-being of communities across the country, and it is imperative that the results of the study be released immediately," they wrote.
The senator's letter was sent to both EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Politico reported last month the White House and the EPA tried to block the public release of the study reportedly showing lower threshold levels because it would "cause a public relations nightmare," citing newly released emails.
Chemicals known as perflurooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were sprayed in an old firefighting foam formula at the base and detected in groundwater at levels that have exceeded EPA thresholds. The EPA has cited a health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.
The issue has raised concerns in Dayton, which has demanded the Air Force act more quickly to prevent the migration of contamination groundwater off-base and potentially threaten city production wells along the Mad River corridor. The city has closed drinking water production wells at Huffman Dam and at Tait's Hill near its own firefighter training site as a precaution.
In their letter, the senators noted PFAS were "toxic chemicals" used in manufacturing "that have been linked to a variety of cancers and serious health conditions."
"The EPA and other regulatory agencies must rely on the most up-to-date, factually accurate information based on rigorous science to guide policy decisions and regulations designed to protect the health and well-being of our constituents," they wrote.
"Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical that this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins," they wrote.
Messages were left Monday with representatives at EPA and Health and Human Services.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, objected to withholding the data, calling on both the EPA and HHS to release the study.
Pruitt has responded to House lawmakers, including Turner, that the federal agency does not have the authority to release the report.