More PFAS Contamination Found In Tucson Groundwater

Published: Friday, September 6, 2019 - 5:44pm

Tucson Water says it’s found a very high level of contamination in groundwater near the city’s airport. But utility also says the water in question is not part of its drinking water supply.

Recent testing found concentrations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals, which can lead to cancer and other harmful health effects, at 10,000 parts per trillion north of the Arizona Air National Guard area at the Tucson International Airport.

“That’s not in an area of the groundwater that Tucson Water uses,” director Tim Thomure said. “It is important to note that there are a number of private well owners in the area.”

Those private wells aren’t connected to the city system. 

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has set a health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. Health advisories are “non-enforceable and non-regulatory.” 

Thomure said the contamination likely came from foam used to fight aircraft fires.

“It’s been commonly used in airfields and Tucson has a couple of them,” he said. “That’s a likely source for this contamination.”

According to the Arizona Daily Star, the Air Guard in Tucson said it halted its use of that kind of foam last year.

Tucson Water has shut about 18 wells over the past 2 years in other areas with high readings of PFAS.

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