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Perfluoroalkyl Chemicals From Firefighting Foam Pollute Water

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Firefighting foam liberally used by the South Dakota Air National Guard and Sioux Falls Fire Department decades ago is the source of significant pollution to the drinking water of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, residents. Nineteen municipal wells representing 28 percent of the city’s water coming from the Big Sioux aquifer have been shut down.1

Fifteen of them contain polyfluoroalkyl or perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFASs) from the firefighting foam, which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), one of the highly toxic chemicals used in the production of Teflon, and a similar chemical, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). The toxic legacy persists because once PFAS enters the environment, it doesn’t break down but rather persists indefinitely.

The extent of the contamination remains unclear, as do the potential health risks to longtime residents of the area. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, “As city officials grapple with the well shutdowns … it may soon face an even larger challenge when citizens begin to learn how long their drinking water was contaminated before it was detected and the wells taken offline.”2

Residents Weren’t Notified of the Pollution for Three Years After the First Detection

It was 2011 when water leaving the Sioux Falls water purification plant was first tested for PFAS. It was tested again in 2012, but the city didn’t receive the results until 2013. PFAS was detected but at levels below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) health advisory level. The city then tested all of their wells for PFAS and eventually shut down all that contained PFAS.

The city then tested for PFAS again in 2014 and 2016, when the EPA lowered its health advisory level for PFAS to 70 parts per trillion (ppt). The 2016 tests found PFOS, which led to more wells being shut down. It was that year that the city finally released an announcement to tell residents about the contamination that had been found.

The culprits, as detected by a consultant hired by the Department of Defense (DoD) and reported by the Rapid City Journal, was firefighting foam used for decades, beginning in 1970. First the Sioux Falls Fire Department sprayed the PFAS-laden foam at the city’s airport weekly during tests and training.

In 1991, the South Dakota Air National Guard took over the firefighting duty and continued to release firefighting foam into the city’s sewer system.

At least a dozen wells have been found to contain PFOA/PFOS at levels above the EPA’s advisory level, one with concentrations 3,500 times over and another at 200 times the limit. Ten of the wells, which produced an average of 440 million gallons of water per year, may be shut down indefinitely. According to the Rapid City Journal:3

“Further investigation by the Air Guard is scheduled for 2019, including the possibility of off-base testing. Another report will follow, though it’s unlikely to be published until late 2019 or in 2020.

It’s been nearly five decades since the Air Force first used firefighting foam, one decade since the EPA set its first advisory level for PFOA/PFOS and a half-decade since the base learned of the city’s municipal well contamination. The Air Guard, however, shows no sense of urgency in completing its inspections.”

PFAS Contamination in Drinking Water Common Near Military Bases

DoD has reported that at least 126 drinking water systems near military bases are contaminated with PFASs, due to their use in firefighting foam.4 However, although other countries are now using firefighting foam that does not contain these toxic chemicals, the U.S. military is not.

As reported by Sharon Lerner, a reporting fellow at The Investigative Fund and an investigative journalist for The Intercept and other major media outlets:5

“[E]ven as the Army, Navy and Air Force have begun the slow process of addressing the contamination, which is expected to cost upwards of $2 billion, the Department of Defense isn’t abandoning this line of chemicals.

While some of the precise formulations that caused the contamination are off the table, the U.S. military is in the midst of an expensive effort to replace older foam with a newer formulation that contains only slightly tweaked versions of the same problematic compounds …

Some of the studies showing the dangers of these persistent chemicals came from the manufacturers themselves … The new foam contains no PFOS and ‘little or no PFOA,’ according to an Air Force press release.6 Instead, it uses the closely related molecules that pose many of the same dangers … ”

This includes shorter-chained replacement PFAS chemicals such as PFHxS, which have very similar concerns as other PFASs, according to a report prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) HHS’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).7

The fact remains that much is unknown about the extent of contamination and the resulting human health and environmental damage that may have occurred. “Important questions about today’s PFAS contamination remain unanswered,” the Rapid City Journal reported, adding:8

From the date PFAS entered a private well or municipal water system to the date it was detected and mitigated, what was the effect and on whom? How many airmen and women handled and used the foam for decades without proper protection? What was the effect and where are they now?”

16.5 Million Americans Could Be Drinking PFAS-Contaminated Water

According to a 2016 Harvard study, 16.5 million Americans have detectable levels of at least one kind of PFAS in their drinking water, and about 6 million Americans are drinking water that contains PFAS at or above the EPA safety level.9

While toxic water supplies were found in 33 states, 75 percent of the samples with elevated PFAS came from 13 states: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.

Not surprisingly, the highest concentration levels of PFAS were found in watersheds near industrial sites, military fire training areas and wastewater treatment plants, but private wells were also found to be contaminated. According to the study:10

“Among samples with detectable PFAS levels, each additional military site within a watershed’s eight-digit hydrologic unit is associated with a 20 percent increase in PFHxS, a 10 percent increase in both PFHpA and PFOA, and a 35 percent increase in PFOS.

The number of civilian airports with personnel trained in the use of aqueous film-forming foams is significantly associated with the detection of PFASs above the minimal reporting level.”

It’s known, also, that people with such chemicals in their drinking water have higher levels in their bodies as well. For instance, one study compared detection of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in public drinking water with PFAA concentrations for 1,566 California women.

The researchers found serum concentrations of two PFAAs, PFOS and PFOA, were 29 percent and 38 percent higher, respectively, among women with detectable levels in their drinking water compared to those without detectable levels.11

What’s more, the ATSDR report suggests that in order to protect public health, the EPA’s safety threshold levels should be much lower than 70 ppt, down to 7 ppt for PFOS and 11 ppt for PFOA.12 If the EPA safety level were lowered according to ATSDR’s recommendation, it means far more Americans are actually at risk.

Already, certain states, including Vermont and Minnesota, have proposed or set lower drinking water standards for PFOA, including 14 ppt in New Jersey. Michigan even proposed setting a standard of 5 ppt for PFAS in December 2017.

There are other questionable chemicals in firefighting foam as well, but the EPA has only set standards for PFOS and PFOA — and these are the only two chemicals the military is looking to remediate.

“The exclusive focus on PFOA and PFOS means that some people who have the broader category of chemicals at considerable levels in their drinking water do not receive clean water from the military,” The Intercept reported.13

What Are the Health Risks of Drinking PFAS-Contaminated Water?

In May 2015, more than 200 scientists from 40 countries signed the Madrid Statement, which warns about the harms of PFAS chemicals and documents the following potential health effects of exposure:14








Liver toxicity

Disruption of lipid metabolism, and the immune and endocrine systems

Adverse neurobehavioral effects

Neonatal toxicity and death

Tumors in multiple organ systems

Testicular and kidney cancers

Liver malfunction

Hypothyroidism

High cholesterol

Ulcerative colitis

Reduced birth weight and size

Obesity

Decreased immune response to vaccines

Reduced hormone levels and delayed puberty

Environmental concerns regarding firefighting foam first surfaced in the 1970s, and in 2000 its maker, 3M, finally said it would stop making the chemical. The decision came in response to an animal study that found PFOS led to weight loss, enlarged livers and premature death in monkeys, even at the lowest dose of exposure.

The EPA acknowledged such risks to the Pentagon at the time, but although 3M stopped making the toxic foam, other companies did not. Further, they (DuPont and other chemical companies) also created the Fire Fighting Foam Coalition to present to the EPA on the firefighting foam’s supposed safety and usefulness for protecting military personnel from fires. The Intercept continued:15

“One of the coalition’s biggest tests came at an October 2003 meeting that was part of the EPA’s investigation of perfluorinated chemicals. The agency was considering whether telomers used in AFFF [firefighting foam], as well as the foam itself, should be part of that regulatory investigation.

Had the agency concluded that the other surfactants in AFFF posed a significant threat, that step could have led fairly quickly to restrictions — or at least to a voluntary phase-out of the chemicals — as it eventually did with PFOA and PFOS.

But at the meeting, the Fire Fighting Foam Coalition asked the EPA to exempt it from the regulatory process [which they did] … It was a major victory. Since then, the Army, Navy and Air Force have continued to use AFFF across the country and abroad with little involvement from the EPA or pressure to replace its products.”

The foam remains in use even as PFASs have been linked to negative liver, cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, reproductive and developmental effects, while other studies have revealed subtle effects such as an increased risk of obesity in children when exposed in utero and lowered immune response.16

Can PFAS Be Removed From Your Drinking Water?

PFAS has no taste or smell, so the only way to know if it’s in your drinking water is to have your water tested. Because drinking water contaminants are so widespread, it’s wise to filter your water, but be aware that most water filters, such as those commonly sold at supermarkets, will not remove PFASs.

The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute recommends using granulated activated carbon “or an equally efficient technology” to remove chemicals such as PFOA and PFOS from your drinking water.17 Activated carbon has been shown to remove up to 90 percent of these chemicals. If you suspect you’ve already been exposed, implementing a detox program is highly recommended.

In addition, it’s wise to avoid other sources of PFAS. Aside from firefighting foam, these chemicals are also widely used in nonstick cookware, water- and stain-repellant clothing, furniture and carpets, fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags.

At the very least, if you live anywhere near a military installation or fire department fire-training area, consider getting your tap water tested for PFAS and other toxic contaminants, and in the meantime, assume it’s contaminated and start filtering it as soon as possible.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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