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The Philadelphia Suburbs Where Many Don’t Drink the Water – About 80,000 people in three townships outside Philadelphia live in an area where the groundwater has been contaminated by chemicals used for decades in firefighting foam at two nearby decommissioned military bases. The Defense Department has cited 401 bases in the U.S. with a known or suspected release of the firefighting foam containing chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. In addition to the towns near the two Pennsylvania bases, the Navy is assisting communities near an active base in Virginia and another in New Jersey where high levels of PFAS in drinking water have been recorded. PFAS are a class of nearly 5,000 chemicals. Often called “forever chemicals” because they take so long to break down, PFAS can accumulate in the body and several forms have been linked to health issues including increased cholesterol, thyroid and immune system problems and several cancers. There is no national database on the extent of PFAS contamination from military bases, or from sites where the chemicals were manufactured or used in products from nonstick cookware to carpets and waterproof jackets. After the Environmental Protection Agency required water systems to test for the chemicals starting in 2013, Harvard University researchers said the findings indicated that the chemicals were in the drinking water of six million people. The Pennsylvania communities of Warrington, Warminster and Horsham, where the contamination has been thoroughly documented through testing by the townships and the Navy, show what others could face as PFAS are found around the country…”

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