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Federal Officials Recruit Airway Heights Residents For Health Assessment

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Representatives from two federal agencies are recruiting Airway Heights residents to participate in a project related to contaminated drinking water in the area in 2017.

The federal officials are from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Centers for Disease Control. They’re knocking on doors and calling residents in the part of Airway Heights where drinking water was found contaminated in 2017. The culprits were substances in foam used for fighting fires at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Those chemicals are known as PFAS. PFAS has been found to contaminate drinking water supplies around several current or former military bases.

“The amount of research looking into the relationship between PFAS exposure and health effects and the various ways that people are exposed to PFAS has been growing exponentially over the last few years," said Rachel Rogers, an environmental health scientist for ATSDR.

“We’re really hoping these exposure assessments will be a great first step to better understanding how people, specifically people living near current or formal military installations are exposed to PFAS," she said.

Rogers and her colleagues are looking for volunteers, people who lived in Airway Heights for at least a year prior to June 2017, when the water was fixed, and are older than three. Many in the targeted area have already received letters, explaining their study.

"There’s no monetary compensation but our hope is that potential participants will recognize what a contribution this work is to answer some very important questions. Participating in our exposure assessment will not only generate information that will directly help this community, but it will also help communities across the country facing similar types of exposures," Rogers said.

Participants chosen for the assessment will be asked to give a blood draw and a urine sample. From those, they will learn how much PFAS was in their blood and urine, though it’s an open question as to what kind of effect those levels have on their health.

The federal representatives will be recruiting participants in Airway Heights through Wednesday.


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