City links water contaminant to chemical foam used in airport area firefighting and training exercises (Video)
Greensboro officials seeking the source of a potentially harmful, drinking water contaminant are focused on a relatively small area that includes Piedmont Triad International Airport and its immediate surroundings.
“They are legacy sites that have been used for firefighting training over the decades,” said Drew, director of Greensboro’s department of water resources.
In addition to training drills, instances where the foam might have accumulated in that area include crashes involving tanker trucks and long forgotten industrial fires or spills.
In 2002 the only major U.S. manufacturer voluntarily agreed to phase out production of PFOS.
So no action was required of Drew and Borchers other than to alert state and federal regulators to their finding, which they did.
PFOS levels at the city’s other water treatment plant on Lake Townsend have not been so problematic.
The city’s most recent round of tests in November found that water from the plant contained PFOS at 43 ppt and its sister compound at 7.2 ppt.
Sister Chemical PFOS limits are often set in combination with its sister chemical, PFOA (perfluoroctanoic acid) that has been a major component of Teflon cooking surfaces and many other consumer products.
EPA’s 70 ppt health advisory for drinking water applies to both compounds either alone or in combination.
Water sources contaminated by PFOS have been associated with releases from manufacturing sites, industrial sites, fire/crash training areas, and industrial or municipal waste sites where products are disposed of or applied.