NORFOLK, Va. — Nicole Jones read the poster's laundry list of health effects from drinking water contaminated by chemicals found in firefighting foam: high cholesterol, changes in liver enzymes, preeclampsia in pregnant women, low infant birth weight and cancer.
“Are you reading all this?” she asked her husband.
Jones and her husband read the poster Tuesday at a public meeting organized by the Navy to inform residents that decades ago, toxic “forever chemicals” had potentially contaminated groundwater at the St. Juliens Creek Annex in Chesapeake and trickled into nearby neighborhoods. About a dozen community members came to G.A. Treakle Elementary to find out about free sampling for drinking wells in the affected area.
The sampling, which officials said will take place over the next few weeks, will look for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that might be present in drinking wells as a result of the Navy's and fire training academy's past use of firefighting foam on base.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS — are a class of compounds used to make products resistant to water, stains and grease. The military contributed to the pollution of PFAS with its use of firefighting foam laced with the chemicals. The foam was used during military training exercises in the '50s, but has since been limited to emergency situations, meeting organizers said. The substances have been dubbed “forever…