NAS Whiting Field PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling

Environmental Restoration Program Public Website

The Navy is requesting permission to sample water obtained from drinking water wells within the designated sampling area near Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS.

OPEN HOUSE PUBLIC MEETING
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
10 a.m. - noon & 4-7 p.m.
Santa Rosa County Auditorium
4530 Spikes Way
Milton, Florida

https://www.WhitingFieldPFAS.com

We are committed to keeping you informed of the ongoing drinking water investigation near NAS Whiting Field. If you’d like to learn about the Navy’s drinking water well sampling near Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field, please attend the Navy's open house public meeting at any time between 10 a.m and noon or 4:00 - 7:00 p.m on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

The open house will have informational displays along with representatives from the Navy and Florida state agencies. This updated information will also be available on the Virtual Open House; this platform reflects our commitment to keeping our neighbors informed, even with the current limitations due to COVID-19.

If you have a drinking water well that has not been sampled and would like to request a sampling appointment, please call 844-NASWFLD (844 627 9353) and leave a message with your name and phone number.

For more information or to view meeting dates for nearby locations, visit www.WhitingFieldPFAS.com or email whtg_naswf_pao.fct@navy.mil.

 

PROPERTY OWNER QUESTIONNAIRE
If your property uses a well for drinking and cooking, please respond to the questionnaire to assist the Navy in completing the PFAS off-base drinking water investigation.


PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling Property Owner Questionnaire

Introduction

PFAS are a family of thousands of different chemicals which have been widely used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. The Navy developed a proactive policy to address past releases of PFAS at installations nationwide, as several PFAS are now of emerging public health concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a lifetime health advisory for two commonly used and studied PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

The most common Navy activity that could have resulted in the historical release of PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS to the environment at NAS Whiting Field (Figure 1) is the use of firefighting foam (specifically aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF) for testing, training, firefighting, and other life-saving emergency responses. Because of this historical use, PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS are present in the soil and/or groundwater on base, and they may also be present in nearby off-base drinking water wells located in the direction that groundwater flows away from the Base within the designated sampling area (Figure 2).

Records indicate that many residents in the sampling area purchase their drinking water from either the City of Milton or the Point Baker Water System. At this time, the Navy is only asking to sample from drinking water wells located in the designated area.

PFAS are chemicals of emerging concern, which have no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards or routine water quality testing requirements. EPA’s lifetime health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory. They are informal technical guidance to assist federal, state, and local officials, along with managers of public or community water systems, in protecting public health as needed.

Previous Sampling

In 2016, the Navy implemented a policy to identify and address sites with potential for exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The review of existing records and databases identified confirmed and potential releases of PFAS within the Base boundary that could impact nearby drinking water. This records search identified one site on NAS Whiting Field – Former Crash Crew Fire Training Area. Following Navy policy, an off-base sampling area was established (Figure 2) and 10 drinking water wells were sampled in the direction of groundwater flow from the Former Crash Crew Fire Training Area. PFOA and/or PFOS were detected in five wells, one of which exceeded the EPA lifetime health advisory. Bottled water is being provided to this property, and implementation of a long-term remedy is underway.

The Navy has conducted extensive, basewide research that has identified additional areas at NAS Whiting Field where AFFF may have been released to the environment; therefore, additional drinking water sampling is being initiated in an expanded sampling area (designated sampling area as shown on Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Designated Sampling Area

Designated Sampling Area

 

This drinking water well investigation will allow us to address any current exposure to PFOA and/or PFOS above EPA’s lifetime health advisory.

Drinking water at NAS Whiting Field is supplied by three on-base wells. In 2016, the on-base water supply was sampled for six different PFAS, and none were detected. NAS Whiting Field resampled the on-base drinking water in late 2020, and PFOA and PFOS were detected above the EPA lifetime health advisory. On-base residents and employees were notified, and an alternative drinking and cooking water source has been provided until a long-term solution is implemented.

There is no legal requirement to conduct this drinking water testing. The Navy is performing this voluntary testing because it is important that our neighbors in the designated sampling area are not drinking water with PFOA and/or PFOS concentrations above the EPA lifetime health advisory as a result of known or suspected releases of PFAS from NAS Whiting Field. The Navy is conducting the investigation in collaboration with partners such as EPA Region 4, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Health.

PFAS

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used since the 1950s in many household and industrial products because of their stain- and water-repellent properties. PFAS are now present virtually everywhere in the world because of the large amounts that have been manufactured and used. Once these compounds are released, they break down very slowly.

The EPA is currently studying PFAS to determine if national regulation is needed. The EPA’s lifetime health advisory provides Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The EPA’s lifetime health advisory for exposure is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 70 ppt for PFOS. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations should not exceed 70 ppt.

Navy Policy

Until a decision for regulating PFAS is made, the Navy has proactively developed a policy to conduct investigations at installations where there has been a known or suspected release of PFAS to the environment. The Navy’s first priority with these investigations is to ensure people are not being exposed to PFOA and/or PFOS in their drinking water at concentrations exceeding the EPA’s lifetime health advisory as a result of a Navy PFAS release. When a known or suspected release of PFAS is identified on a Navy installation, a sampling area is established 1 mile in the direction that groundwater flows away from a release site. To be protective, the Navy offers sampling to all residents whose drinking water is supplied by groundwater wells in these designated areas. Once any potential exposure from drinking water has been addressed, the Navy will then complete the full investigation to determine the extent of these compounds on our installations.

Actions Based on Results

The preliminary results from the off-base drinking water sampling are expected approximately 30 days after collecting the samples. We will provide notification to the property owners of their personal drinking water results and follow-up actions if needed. The Navy will do its best to keep the results of individual properties confidential to the extent permitted by law.

The Navy will provide an alternate water source, likely bottled water, for drinking and cooking to any resident in the designated sampling area whose well contains drinking water with PFOA and/or PFOS above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory. The Navy will continue to provide the alternate water until a permanent solution is implemented.

NAS Whiting Field Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling Results Summary

In March 2021, the Navy team initiated the sampling of drinking water from wells within a designated area near NAS Whiting Field. Table 1 summarizes the drinking water sampling results to date. We call each property owner upon receipt of their preliminary results to let them know if their water contains PFOS and/or PFOA above or below the USEPA lifetime health advisory level.  Bottled water delivery is also scheduled within 24 hours of the preliminary results phone call for property owners if their drinking water exceeded the USEPA lifetime health advisory level for PFOS and/or PFOA.  Final laboratory results are mailed to each property owner after all data is verified and final. Out of respect for the privacy of the property owner, we have only provided individual results to each property owner.

Table 1. NAS Whiting Field – Drinking Water Results as of March 18, 2022
Number of drinking water wells identified for sampling based on voluntary owner requests Number of drinking water wells sampled Number of drinking water wells with final results above the lifetime health advisory Number of drinking water wells with final results below the lifetime health advisory Number of drinking water wells with final results pending
60 60 12 48 0

Health Information

Exposure to PFOA and PFOS appears to be global. Studies have found both compounds in the blood samples of the general population. Studies on exposed populations indicate that PFOA and/or PFOS may have caused elevated cholesterol levels and possibly low infant birth weight. In studies conducted using laboratory animals, effects on developmental, neurological, immune, thyroid, and liver function were observed.

Health effects from exposure to low levels of PFAS are not well known and studies are continuing. At this time, it is not possible to link exposures to PFOA and/or PFOS to a person’s individual health issues. Blood tests are available to measure these chemicals, but they are not routinely done because the results can be inconclusive and test results do not predict health effects. Long-term exposure effects are still being investigated by the EPA.

Based on what is known and still unknown about PFOA and PFOS, EPA recommends people not drink or cook with water that contains these compounds above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory.

PFAS Regulatory History

PFOA Stewardship Program

In 2006, EPA initiated the 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major companies in the U.S. committed to reduce facility emissions and product contents of PFOA and related chemicals on a global basis by 95 percent no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content of these chemicals by 2015. All U.S. companies have met the program goals. To meet the program goals, most companies stopped the manufacture and import of long-chained PFAS, and then transitioned to alternative chemicals. On January 21, 2015, EPA proposed a Significant New Use Rule under the Toxics Substances Control Act to require manufacturers (including importers) of PFOA- and PFOA-related chemicals to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in any process.

Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)

The EPA issued the Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3)* in May 2012. The UCMR3 required all large public water systems (PWSs) serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative PWSs serving 10,000 or fewer people to sample for 30 chemicals between 2013 and 2015. Six PFAS were included in the UCMR3 contaminant list. Of the six PFAS, EPA issued health advisory levels for only two, PFOA and PFOS. The UCMR3 results found these two chemicals were present in less than 1 percent of the nearly 5,000 public water systems sampled per UCMR3.

In December 2016, the EPA issued the Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR4). UCMR4 requires all large PWSs serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative PWSs serving 10,000 or fewer people to sample for 30 chemicals between 2018 and 2020. There were no PFAS included on the UCMR4 list of contaminants.

EPA is currently proposing development of a Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5); the final rule is expected to be released in 2021. It is currently unknown whether PFAS will be included as part of UCMR5; however, several PFAS have been proposed for inclusion

* The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) amendments require that once every five years EPA issue a new list of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored by PWSs.

EPA Lifetime Health Advisories

In May 2016, the EPA Office of Water issued a drinking water lifetime health advisory for PFOA and PFOS. Health advisories are not enforceable, regulatory levels; rather, they are levels that provide the public, including sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The health advisory is 70 ppt for PFOA and 70 ppt for PFOS. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS are compared with the 70 ppt health advisory level.

Navy Policy

Department of the Navy, Office of the Assistant Secretary (Environment) [DASN (E)] Policy Memo, 21 Oct 2014

The Navy issued a policy requiring on-base drinking water sampling for PFOA and PFOS for bases where groundwater was used as drinking water and PFAS could have been released nearby in the past. Navy and Marine Corps installations that were not required to sample finished drinking water under UCMR3, that produce drinking water from on-installation sources and have an identified or suspected PFAS release within approximately 1-mile upgradient to the drinking water source were also required to sample their finished drinking water by December 2015.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Policy Memo, 14 Sept 2015

Similar to the October 2014 DASN (E) policy memo, this memo related to testing on-base drinking water. However, this memo also specified that if levels of PFOS and/or PFOA in drinking water exceeded the current at the time EPA health advisory (that is the 2009 provisional short-term health advisories), then alternative drinking water must be supplied until the PFOA and/or PFOS levels were reduced to below the EPA health advisory.

DASN (E) Policy Memo, 14 Jun 2016

This policy expanded the sampling for PFOA and PFOS at all Department of Navy (DON) installations where such sampling was not previously completed under EPA’s UCMR3 or the DON’s October 2014 policy. This memo also specified that for instances where drinking water from an installation is purchased from a public water system, but wasn't tested under UCMR3, that the installation must sample the finished drinking water to comply with this policy. Additionally, this policy included reporting requirements to the DASN (E) office for all PFOA and/or PFOS in drinking water results.

DASN (E) Policy Memo, 17 Jun 2016

This policy defines the DON’s intention to remove, dispose, and replace legacy AFFF that contains PFOS and/or PFOA once environmentally suitable substitutes are identified and certified to meet military specification (MILSPEC) requirements. This policy directs the following actions be taken until suitable replacements are certified:

  • Immediately cease the uncontrolled environmental release of AFFF for shoreside installations, with the exception of emergency responses.
  • Update and implement Navy and Marine Corps firefighting system requirements, as needed, to ensure fire and emergency service vehicles and equipment at DON installations and facilities are tested and certified in a manner that does not allow the release of AFFF to the environment.
  • By the end of Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), remove and dispose of uninstalled PFOS-containing AFFF in drums and cans from local stored supplies for shore installations and ships to prevent future environmental releases.

DASN (E) Policy Memo, 20 Jun 2016

This policy required the Navy and Marine Corps to identify and prioritize sites for investigation if drinking water resources, on- or off-installation, are thought to be vulnerable to PFAS contamination from past Navy and Marine Corps PFAS releases. Sites with drinking water sources within 1-mile downgradient from known or potential releases of PFAS were assigned the highest priority. This policy directed the sampling of off-base drinking water at these high priority (Priority 1) sites within FY17.

The primary mechanism to identify potential PFAS release sites and areas of concern (AOC), was review of Environmental Restoration records. To ensure that all potential PFAS release mechanisms were identified, installations were directed to review installations to identify areas that are not already part of the Environmental Restoration program. We have completed the sampling for all off-base potentially impacted drinking water sources that were identified as a result of this policy and currently known exposures have been addressed.

Department of Defense (DoD) Policy

Secretary of Defense Memo, 23 July 2019

This memo established a PFAS task force to ensure a coordinated, aggressive, and holistic approach to DoD-wide efforts to proactively address PFAS. The goals of the task force are mitigating and eliminating the use of the current AFFF, understanding the impacts of PFAS on human health, and fulfilling cleanup responsibility related to PFAS. The task force is coordinating and collaborating with other federal agencies to achieve these goals.

ASD Guidance Memo, 15 October 2019

This guidance memo provided clarification of toxicity values for PFOA and PFOS that can be used to estimate screening levels used in the CERCLA program to determine if further investigation is warranted or if a site can proceed to site closeout.

ASD Memo, 23 October 2019

This memo revised quarterly progress reporting requirements for installations with known or suspected PFAS releases.

ASD Guidance Memo, 22 November 2019

This memo established requirements for installation commanders to conduct community engagement with respect to PFAS issues, report on their progress in so doing, and to provide feedback on community questions and concerns.

ASD Guidance Memo, 22 November 2019

This memo established a consistent methodology for analysis of PFAS in media other than drinking water and requires DoD Components to use analytical methods meeting the DoD/DOE Quality Systems Manual for Environmental Laboratories, Appendix B, Table B-15.

ASD Memo, 13 January 2020

This memo established annual reporting requirements for AFFF usage or spills (not associated with use) at all DoD installations.

ASD Policy Memo, 2 March 2020

This memo identifies requirements for PFAS drinking water sampling on DoD installations where DoD is the drinking water purveyor. The requirements include initial and routine monitoring, actions necessary if results exceed the lifetime health advisory, laboratory analysis and record keeping requirements, and notification of results.

Additional Documents

ATSDR Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Frequently Asked Questions

ATSDR Interim Guidance: An Overview of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Interim Guidance for Clinicians Responding to Patient Exposure Concerns

ATSDR Perfluoroalkyls – ToxFAQs

ATSDR ToxGuide for Perfluoroalkyls

EPA Fact Sheet: PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories

EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan

Links

EPA PFAS website

Assistant Secretary of the Navy PFAS website

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR)

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