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Toxic chemicals detected in Navy drinking water on Oahu for the past two years

By Kristen Consillio

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    HONOLULU, Hawaii (KITV) — The Honolulu Board of Water Supply says toxic chemicals found in firefighting suppressant have been detected in the Navy’s drinking water system for at least the past two years — at levels deemed safe at the time.

But in June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drastically lowered the recommended limits of these so-called PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ because of growing evidence that they’re much more dangerous than previously thought.

“We’re just starting to scratch the surface really of how dangerous these chemicals are,” said Wayne Tanaka, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii. “[There’s] pretty strong evidence that they can cause these pretty serious and long term health complications.”

PFAs exposure can cause everything from thyroid disease to reproductive issues and cancer.

Last December, the chemicals were detected in groundwater samples collected at Red Hill over six parts per trillion.

That’s lower than the state Department of Health’s set guidelines at 40 parts per trillion.

But under the EPA’s new guidance, it’s no longer safe to drink water with PFAS chemicals above point-zero-zero-four parts per trillion.

Advocates are calling for an intervention from Hawaii’s congressional leaders to bring in emergency resources to assist the Navy take or take over the cleanup altogether.

“So that we can again reduce any harm that may be may be inflicting on, you know, the nearby communities, on the groundwater, on future generations,” Tanaka said. “These are forever chemicals, they don’t break down, they can persist in the environment for centuries.”

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