Veterans worry about health after exposure to harmful chemicals at Pease Air Force Base

Veterans worry about health after exposure to harmful chemicals at Pease Air Force Base

Source:, December 12, 201

Veterans and family members who lived and worked aboard the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, NH,. are urging the government to collect data about their health and disease rates and how that may tie into chemicals they were exposed to on the military installation.

During a listening session, Dec. 7 hosted by 157th Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. John Pogorek, veterans spoke about routine, unprotected interactions they had with chemicals that are now known or believed to be harmful according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

Speakers said they used jet fuels to wash their hands; dumped hydraulic fluid into storm drains, and sprayed each other with firefighting foam to celebrate events like retirements.

That foam is known to contain cancer-causing PFAS chemicals which can also cause other health issues. High levels of PFAS chemicals were found in Pease drinking water in 2014, according to New Hampshire Public Radio and the Air Force base has now partnered with both the state and city to clean up the water supply. The base has also been named a Superfund site.

There’s a video of the listening session here:

Some of the speakers at the listening session told of babies being born on the base from the 1960s to the 1980s with birth defects. Family members told of loved ones who died of cancer and other health conditions that may have been caused by chemical exposure years after they left the base.

More about Pease water sampling can be found at:…

Session attendees said they would like a registry of former base residents to be established with details about where they worked, what chemicals they came into contact with and their current health status.

Pease is not the only military installation to experience problems as a result of contamination. Veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated drinking water while serving and living at Camp Lejeune, N.C.. for at least 30 cumulative days from Aug. 1, 1953 to Dec. 31, 1987 are eligible to receive disability payments from the VA.

Pease may be the first military installation in the nation to take on a broader range of issues related to PFAS contamination through a combination of epidemiology and community outreach according to officials.

A working group established by the base is made up of both state and military epidemiologists and environmental officials. It will meet monthly to determine future actions.

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