Health

CDC to conduct health study at polluted former Army base

Federal health officers are conducting a brand new study to decide whether or not veterans as soon as stationed at a now-shuttered California navy base have been uncovered to dangerously excessive ranges of cancer-causing toxins.

The resolution by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes 9 months after an Associated Press investigation discovered that ingesting water at Fort Ord contained poisonous chemical compounds and that a whole bunch of veterans who lived at the central California coast base within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties later developed uncommon and terminal blood cancers.

In a letter final Friday to Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., the director of the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Patrick Breysse, wrote that “there are sufficient data and scientific reasons for ATSDR to re-evaluate health risks related to historical drinking water exposures at Fort Ord.” Porter had requested for a brand new study in February, two days after the AP printed its story.

The company didn’t instantly reply to a request searching for additional particulars in regards to the new study.

Army veteran Julie Akey, who lived at Fort Ord and was recognized in 2016 at the age of 46 with a number of myeloma, a uncommon blood most cancers, stated she is “confident that science will prove our high rate of cancers and illnesses are not a coincidence.”

Akey began a Facebook group for Fort Ord veterans with most cancers. The quantity has grown to practically 1,000.

In 1990, 4 years earlier than it started the method of closing as an energetic navy base, Fort Ord was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s record of essentially the most polluted locations within the nation. Included in that air pollution have been dozens of chemical compounds, some now identified to trigger most cancers, that have been discovered within the base’s ingesting water and soil.

The AP’s evaluate of public paperwork confirmed the Army knew that chemical compounds had been improperly dumped at Fort Ord for many years. Even after the contamination was documented, the Army performed down the dangers.

One of these chemical compounds was trichloroethylene, or TCE, which was often known as a miracle degreaser and was extensively used at Fort Ord. The Army discovered TCE in Fort Ord’s wells 43 separate occasions from 1985 to 1994, and 18 of these exams confirmed TCE exceeded authorized security limits.

The new health study will replace one performed greater than 25 years in the past. The earlier ATSDR public health study, printed in 1996, discovered that toxins within the soil and within the aquifers beneath Fort Ord weren’t probably to pose a previous, current or future risk to these dwelling there.

But that conclusion was primarily based on restricted information provided by the navy and earlier than medical science understood the connection between a number of the chemical exposures and most cancers, notably TCE. Four years after the ATSDR’s evaluation, in 2000, the Department of Health and Human Services added TCE to its roster of chemical compounds identified to trigger most cancers.

It’s unclear how lengthy and at what concentrations TCE might have been within the water earlier than 1985, when a whole bunch of hundreds of individuals lived on the base. And TCE wasn’t the one downside. The EPA recognized greater than 40 “chemicals of concern” in soil and groundwater.

The Department of Veterans Affairs informed the AP earlier this year that the contamination was “within the allowable safe range” in areas that supplied ingesting water.

Veterans who lived at Fort Ord and have since tried to get medical care or incapacity advantages by way of the VA primarily based on their cancers have repeatedly been denied. Akey and others hope the brand new study will discover a hyperlink between their cancers and their time at Fort Ord, permitting them to get care and advantages.

———

Contact AP’s world investigative staff at [email protected] or https://www.ap.org/tips/.

Back to top button