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Health, Science & Environment

Dayton Threatening To Sue Wright-Patterson Over Forever Chemicals In Water Supply

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The City of Dayton is threatening to sue Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Department of Defense over chemicals in the city's drinking water. They say the suit is a last resort to protect the city’s water supply.

PFAS, or per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are called "forever chemicals." That means they stay in the environment and in the human body for a very long time. They have been linked to health effects like cancer and low birth weights.

The chemicals have also been used in airport firefighting foam for a long time, because they're so stable, they smother fires.

Now, testing shows that there are high levels of PFAS at more than 20 sites across Wright-Patterson.

Dayton says those chemicals are migrating towards the well field where the city gets a large part of its drinking water. The city says that, so far, the base and the Department of Defense have taken no steps to mitigate or address the contamination.

Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.