A study examining permanent chemical agents (PFAs) in water coming from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove is examining possible correlations between those chemicals and cancer.

We have an exclusive look at the new technology being tested at the base that is leading the effort to permanently remove these chemicals from water.

It's a moment of celebration for two local women who took their fight for clean water from Warminster to the White House this year.

For Joanne Stanton and Hope Gross, it was a huge mission.

Grose and Stanton recorded water samples near the Willow Grove Naval Air Station military base where they grew up.

The women want to know whether the dangerous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as Forever chemicals, that the EPA identified more than a decade ago as coming from firefighting foam on the base are still in the water. thinking.

“We played in that stream. Our well was on the front lawn,” Grosse said.

We learned that the CDC found that 5 of 11 cancers investigated in a 12-county area of ​​Pennsylvania, including Montgomery and Bucks counties, were correlated with high levels of PFA in water near the base. It has now been verified that the CDC feels it is urgent to remove it from the water.

“About three months after my father passed away, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer,” Grosse explained.

Groce was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of five cancers, as well as thyroid, kidney, ovarian and endometrial cancer. It is not yet known whether it is related to the brain tumor that affected Stanton's son, Patrick, 6.

“Probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life was watching a healthy, vibrant, intelligent little child slowly turn into a disabled adult due to the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment. ,” Stanton said.

But this year brought new hope.

The women stood in the room as President Joe Biden ordered the removal of PFA from the nation's water supplies by 2029.

On the same day, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that the federal safety standard for PFA chemicals in drinking water should be 20 ppt or less.

According to the agency, 300,000 PPT was once recorded at the Willow Grove base.

“Chemicals can be filtered out. They can be removed through carbon filtration,” said U.S. Rep. Madeline Dean.

Congressman Dean was one of the first politicians to fight for filtration.

Two competing technologies are being tested at Willow Grove to see how effective they are at absorbing chemicals from water.

One company, ECT2, uses ion exchange resins to absorb PFA from its source.

“We submit it to the state,” Carl Bigney, who sends water tests every month, told NBC10.

Results requested by NBC10 last month showed “undetectable” PFA levels after treatment.

Cyclopure is another company conducting testing at the base.

Their technology has also shown positive results, and the Pentagon is asking them to scale up the cleanup.

And while this looks promising, Rep. Dean says there's more work to be done.

“I wanted to, and will continue to push, to encourage people to get ahead of health concerns and to hold manufacturers accountable for monitoring,” Dean said. Stated.

PFA maker 3M has said in part that it will stop producing PFA by the end of 2025, saying in part, “We remain committed to addressing legacy PFAS.”

Other manufacturers we contacted either had no comment or have not yet responded.

For Dean, holding them accountable is personal considering her own brother served and worked at the joint base.

“My brother just passed away in November,” she told NBC10.

And while we'll never know if his cancer is related to his time on base, she and Groce and Stanton insist their advocacy work must continue.

“We're going to fight, we're going to change the law to protect others, and we won't stop until drinking water standards are established. PFAS is considered a hazardous substance under CERCLA. We’re not going to stop until then.’ And we’re almost there,” Stanton said.

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