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Something In The Water: Groundwater From Air Force Base Tests Positive For Hazardous Chemicals

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Did you know that a human being can only last about three or four days without drinking fresh water? Unfortunately, if you live on or near the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, the water may kill you becauseyou're drinking it: a 2018 report on the base's groundwater discovered the presence of hazardous chemicals in shockingly high numbers.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of human-made chemicals (which include perfluorooctanoic acid, PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfonate, PFOS). The Environmental Protection Agency has linked exposure to these chemicals to thyroid disorders, pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, cancers, high cholesterol, increased liver enzymes, decreased vaccination response, and reproductive and developmental complications. According to the human health advisory, 'safe' exposure to PFAS is limited to 70 parts per trillion across an entire lifespan; samples at Holloman reached as high as 1.294 parts per trillion.

Just two years earlier, the U.S. Air Force identified 31 potential release sites at Holloman. Though the Air Force report claims that no drinking water supply wells are located at the base, the state is very concerned with the impact this contamination could have on the ecosystem and the people who work in close proximity -- especially because contamination levels are more than 18,000 times higher than what the federal government says is safe.

"Our goal is to make sure that the environment is protected, that public health is protected and that New Mexicans are made whole from the lack of response that the Air Force has shown," said New Mexico Environment Department Secretary-designate James Kenney.

Stories and reports of water contamination are becoming more and more common as time goes on. Though the U.S. government is required, by law, to notify its citizens if their drinking water is unsafe, it doesn't hurt to go the extra mile to protect yourself. Relying on residential water cooler services and commercial water cooler solutions (at work and home, respectively) can ensure that your drinking water is filtered and sterilized. Urge your boss to install commercial water cooler solutions for everyone at work, find a cooler for your home, and rest easy knowing you're safe.

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