Marines


Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
Environmental Management Division, MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune

Last Updated July 2020

 
What are PFAS and AFFF?
 
  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, PFAS, are a large family of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s because of their unique water- and oil-repelling properties. They have been used in products such as carpeting, apparel, food packaging, and non-stick cookware to make them more stain-resistant, waterproof, and/or non-stick.
  • PFAS are key components in firefighting foam (specifically aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF), which is used by fire departments across the country and the Department of Defense to fight fuel fires.  AFFF use was widespread as it revolutionized the aircraft safety industry.
Why do we test?
 
  • No PFAS compounds have been detected in finished water above any regulatory screening or guidance levels
  • Due to use of AFFF on Base, PFAS has been released into the environment.  Once released to the environment, PFAS can move easily into and with the flow of groundwater. People can be exposed to PFAS in their drinking water if contaminated groundwater is used as their drinking water source. The drinking water on Camp Lejeune has been tested for PFAS because groundwater on Base is the source of our drinking water.
  • Due to potential toxicity, widespread use and long life in the environment, PFAS are considered “emerging chemicals of environmental concern”. Studies have shown various health effects on directly exposed populations; however, health effects from exposure to low levels of PFAS are not well known and studies are continuing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating long-term exposure effects.
  • The EPA has developed a lifetime health advisory for two PFAS compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).  EPA recommends people not drink or cook with water that contains these compounds above the EPA lifetime health advisory. We compare our waters test results to the EPA's Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA), North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) and Department of Defense (DOD) drinking water guidance.

What is the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory?

  • The EPA issued a drinking water LHA in 2016 for two commonly used and studied PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).  The health advisory is not a regulatory standard, but it does recommend people not drink or cook with water that contains PFOS or PFOA above 70 ppt (parts per trillion) either individually or as a combined total. For reference, 1 ppt is roughly equivalent to 1 drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool (660,000 gallons)

When did we start testing?

  • The drinking water supplies on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (MCB CL) and Marine Corps Air Station New River  (MCAS NR) were sampled for PFAS between 2013 and 2016 as part of EPA’s efforts to gather information on the prevalence of PFAS in drinking water systems across the country.
  • Specifically, PFAS sampling of finished water was part of the EPA’s Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3)  list of contaminants. More information on the UCMR3 can be found on the EPA’s website:  https://www.epa.gov/dwucmr/third-unregulated-contaminant-monitoring-rule
  • The Base initiated voluntary drinking water sampling in 2019. Currently the drinking water is sampled twice a year for PFAS compounds, including PFOA and PFOS.
What did we find?
 
  • To date, PFOA and PFOS have not been detected in any of the finished drinking water sampled aboard the installation.
  • In one sample collected as part of the voluntary sampling event in August 2019, one other PFAS, perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), was detected at 1.76 ppt in a sample from the Hadnot Point distribution system. This chemical currently does not have a health advisory level or other cleanup standard. This detection of PFHxA is the only PFAS that has been detected in finished drinking water.
  • Camp Lejeune drinking water comes from very deep wells, is regularly tested and continues to meet all government safe drinking water standards.
The drinking water on MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River has been tested for PFOS and PFOA and remains safe to drink.
Why are we focused on just drinking water versus breathing the compound or skin contact?
 
  • Exposure to PFAS for the majority of people occurs through drinking contaminated water or eating food that contains PFAS. PFAS exposure studies are ongoing. The Navy and Marine Corps closely follow the developing science behind this emerging contaminant and will update our investigations to include other ways people can be exposed if new information indicates it is needed. 
Drinking water is a priority for the Navy and Marine Corps.
Managing hazardous materials, pollution, and public health on Camp Lejeune is a team effort!
Multiple programs are involved in managing PFAS. The Camp Lejeune Environmental Management Division works with Naval Public Health and multiple state and federal agencies to ensure we comply with all federal and state standards to protect human health and the environment.
Ensuring the health and well being of all those aboard Camp Lejeune is our mission.
 

Find out what each program in the Environmental Management Division is doing about PFAS:

Environmental Quality Branch

Drinking Water:

  • We are voluntarily monitoring PFAS semiannually.
  • We monitor finished drinking water (what comes out of your tap) from the 4 Water Treatment Plants and raw groundwater (water before treatment) from more than 50 supply wells.
  • None of our drinking water samples (neither finished drinking water nor raw groundwater monitoring) have ever exceeded the 70ppt LHA level.
  • Voluntary monitoring detections (including PFAS as of 2019) are linked in our annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs): https://www.lejeune.marines.mil/Offices-Staff/Environmental-Mgmt/Annual-Reports/ (under “Annual Reports”).

Air Quality:

Environmental Restoration:

  • We are conducting a Base-wide assessment of soil and groundwater where our research indicates there is a potential for a historic PFAS-AFFF release.
  • We started an initial investigation in 2017, and we are expanding to multiple locations on MCB CL and MCAS NR this summer, June 2020.
  • We work with Public Works Division and Military Construction parties to ensure that potential PFAS contaminated soil and groundwater are handled safely and disposed of properly.
  • For more information go to the Camp Lejeune PFAS Fact Sheet

Environmental Compliance Branch

Hazardous Materials Management :

  • The Environmental Compliance Branch screens, authorizes, and monitors the use of PFAS containing materials on Base. 
  • The Resource Conservation and Recovery Section (RCRS) evaluates the products for PFAS constituents and approves or denies use based on MILSPEC and mission requirements.
  • RCRS reports any known PFAS/AFFF release to Headquarters Marine Corps.
  • The installation spill response team cleans up and manages AFFF releases. The Environmental Quality Branch coordinates contractor support if a spill is beyond the capability of the installation spill response team.
  • The Environmental Assessment Section provides regulatory oversight of daily unit operations by inspecting units for compliance with applicable Federal, State and other directives.
Want more information on PFAS?
Want More Information about Camp Lejeune’s PFAS efforts?
Please contact the Base Environmental Management Division:
Installation Restoration Program Manager
910-915-9773/ 910-451-5878
Lejeune_IR_Program@usmc.mil

 

                           https://scrwa.org/pfas

Photo by LCpl Janessa Pon

Navy’s Nationwide PFAS Policy

  • Drinking water safety is the top priority with the Navy’s PFAS policy and investigations
  • The Navy conducts drinking water investigations first, before completing on-Base PFAS investigations, if there are drinking water wells located within 1 mile in the direction the groundwater flows away from a known or suspected PFAS release area

 

AFFF Tanks at MCAS NR (above) and Hadnot Point (below) included in our investigation.

2/14 - Foam Experiment - Naval Research Lab Chemical Engineer Gopal Ananth and Research Chemist Spencer Giles test an experimental aqueous film-forming foam at the NRL in Washington, Sept. 23, 2019. NRL scientists are conducting research to support the Defense Department’s effort to replace firefighting foams containing fluorine.