An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Feds Release Health Results Of People Who Drank Airway Heights Water

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

The federal government has released results of health tests it conducted on people who drank water pulled from wells in Airway Heights before 2017. The wells contained a chemical used in foam that was used to fight fires at Fairchild.


The Airway Heights community is one of at least seven nationwide where blood and urine samples were taken from residents.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry collected samples from 330 people living in 168 households, looking for traces of the chemicals called PFAS. The lead researcher is Dr. Brad Goodwin.

“In Spokane County we actually had PFAS levels at 72.9 micrograms per liter of blood compared to 1.2 in the general population," Goodwin said.


Goodwin says the Airway Heights concentrations of two of the PFAS chemicals were among the highest in the communities tested so far. 


“We're looking at the questions to be asked and the information that we have to understand who is likely to have more higher levels of PFAS in their bodies. It's going to help build our understanding of the public health impacts of PFAS," he said.

Once the analysis is complete, Goodwin says the agency plans to hold an in-person community meeting in Airway Heights to share its findings and recommendations.


Studies of animals have linked the compounds to health problems that include cancer, low birth weight, high cholesterol and developmental problems.

The Airway Heights wells were flushed out in 2017 and no longer contain traces of PFAS.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
Related Content