Water danger: Wright-Patt among many military bases where chemicals detected

Chemicals have been found in Dayton’s drinking water — something that has been attributed to a fire fighting chemical used at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and a city of Dayton training facility.

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been detected in Dayton’s drinking water, but are well below the EPA health advisory limit, according to letters received by customers from both the city of Dayton and Montgomery County.

RELATED: Chemicals found in Dayton water prompt warning letters

Such substances have caused concern in the area before, prompting the shutdown of several Dayton water wells last year and leading Wright-Patterson to construct a new water treatment facility after wells on its base exceeded the EPA’s safe level of 70 parts per trillion.

PFAS aren’t just a local problem. The substances, which the EPA said can cause a variety of health issues, have been used in firefighting chemicals across the country. These are just a few other military installations where water has been contaminated by PFAS, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

New Jersey

At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, the ATSDR says, PFAS have contaminated the groundwater and even migrated to local wells.

The PFAS at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst come from aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, chemicals used to fight fires, the ATSDR says. AFFF use is present in multiple cases of contamination near military bases.


The Air Force isn’t the only branch to use firefighting chemicals containing the contaminant. At the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Virginia, PFAS caused water wells to be shut down and those living on the base were supplied with bottled water for drinking.

The ATSDR says the PFAS resulted from AFFF chemicals at the base.


The Michigan National Guard is investigating groundwater PFAS contamination at the U.S. Army National Guard Camp in Grayling, Michigan.

The cause is likely AFFF, the agency says, and local residents are being asked to allow the Department of Defense to test their well water and are being provided with interim water when applicable.


Private and public water wells are being tested for PFAS near Reese Air Force Base in Texas due to likely exposure to the substances due to AFFF use, the ATSDR says.

Some wells exceeded the EPA’s lifetime exposure limit and are being retested.


Some communities near Spokane, Washington have contaminated wells and water systems due to PFAS in AFFF chemicals from the nearby Fairchild Air Force Base, the ATSDR says.

Some homes had PFAS levels above the EPA safe limit and were provided with bottled water, the ATSDR says.

The military isn’t the only source of PFAS. Chemicals used at Dayton’s firefighting training center has also been attributed to contamination. This publication previously reported that the Air Force was spending $29 million to replace AFFF supplies with a more environmentally friendly substance.

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