PFAS, COVID and potential environmental racism

The draft environmental impact study acknowledged that there will be “significant disproportionate impacts to low-income and minority populations as well as children.”  Although much of the US government is phasing out fluorine based firefighting foam use,  due to having jets with composite bodies like the Lockheed Martin F-35, the fluorine based foams will continue to be required to be used. 

[Pierre Sprey, defense analyst]

What is environmental justice and racism…

Encyclopedia Britannica: Environmental Justice

PFAS is an endocrine disruptor, mimicking hormones which makes vaccines less effective in babies and suppresses people’s immune systems making them vulnerable to viruses like Corona-virus.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals masquerade as hormones. These insidious contaminants increase the diseases that cause the underlying conditions that result in susceptibility to COVID-19…” 

“We know the serious increase in noise that our communities are going to experience are going to have a significant, disproportionate impact on low-income and minority populations as well as children, resulting in environmental injustice to these communities. It will worsen the severe racial inequities that already plague our city and county.”
– Wisconsin State Representative Chris Taylor

“Minorities, children and lower-income communities on Madison’s East Side would be disproportionately affected if the city’s Air National Guard base is chosen to house the newest class of fighter jets, according to a new draft report. The draft environmental impact study found that if Truax Field becomes the new home for F-35 fighter jets, the impacts would largely affect the communities south and east of the base. “All that noise from those jets is pretty intense. If that’s your daily routine,” the effects would be severe, said Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, who represents the area southwest of Truax Field. “It’s a public health issue.” The draft report showed that not only would noise disturbances increase from what residents already experience from F-16 fighter jets currently flown at the base, but the area affected by noise also would expand by more than 1,000 acres, including nearly 200 acres that could potentially be deemed no longer suitable for residential use.”

WSJ Aug 2020: Marginalized communities would be most impacted by jets at Truax Field, report says

“So what exactly are the public health and safety threats posed by the F-35s? Firefighting foam used at Truax Field has already contaminated water and soil nearby with polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. Wells 9, 15 and 23 in east Madison and the Starkwater Creek watershed have high levels of PFOS and PFOA as well as 11 other PFAS compounds for which the EPA and Wisconsin Department of Health Services have yet to set groundwater standards. PFAS compounds have been linked to high cholesterol, thyroid hormone disruption and cancer. There has been no attempt at PFAS remediation by the Air Force. And the new firefighting foam the Air Force began using in June 2018 might actually be more harmful than the foam it replaces. The F-35 receives frequent coats of a special composite material to help make it invisible to radar detection systems. We do not know what this material is composed of, how toxic its components might be, nor how the Air Force plans to keep these chemicals from polluting the surrounding soil and water…”

from Cap Times

Decision to base F-35s in Madison ignores public health concerns

The following is the noise map showing populations with people of color listed.  If you look at the next map after this, you will see that the locations of water wells with the most PFAS pollution tend to be in areas with relatively higher populations of people of color and low income.

Noise Map – Persons of Color


source: City of Madison Water Utility

PFAS Water Quality Testing Results – All Wells

Map as a PDF 

PFAS Forever Chemical Testing Results, City of Madison 17 Oct 2019


Interfere with the body’s natural hormones

“PFAS is associated with many serious health conditions, such as immune system disruption, which can cause asthma, allergies, auto-immune diseases such as diabetes and lupus, and other health problems—underlying conditions that make people more vulnerable to viral infections and more likely to die if they are infected.

PFAS exposures in infants have also been linked to lowered vaccine responses—so exposed infants may be less likely to be protected from viral diseases even if vaccinated.”

– Pat Elder, Military Poisons   

“These chemicals [in addition to PFAS], known as endocrine disruptors, interfere with the actions of hormones in the human body in some way — for instance, by imitating natural hormones, or increasing or decreasing hormone production…”

* Bisphenol A (BPA) – canned foods, plastics, and dental sealants
* Dioxin – widely found in foods, accumulates in animal fatty tissue
* Atrazine – pesticide found in drinking water
* Phthalates – used in plastics and in many products as dissolving agents
(Personal care products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient. )
* Perchlorate – rocket fuel found in many produce and milk products
* Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – fire retardant used in building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams and textiles
* Lead – if you don’t know what lead is and does you are probably already a victim of it
* Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) – no-stick cookware
* Mercury – fish
* Arsenic – food and drinking water
* Organophosphate pesticides – some produce

* Glycol ethers – paints and cleaning products