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PFAS is used in a variety of products including firefighting foam. The DND said firefighters were using the foam to conduct training and all “activities were conducted according to the accepted practices and regulations of the time. While water is now used for training, firefighting foams containing PFAS are still used for emergencies as they are currently the safest and most effective way to extinguish fuel fires.”
The DND will be working alongside Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and property owners. Tests will be conducted by an independent environmental consultant with results analyzed at an accredited lab.
People using municipal water from the City of Edmonton and Sturgeon County are not affected.
Prolonged and high exposure to PFAS can have serious health impacts, according to AHS. It has been linked to cancer, and can affect the immune system, interfere with hormones, decrease fertility and increase cholesterol levels. It can also affect fetus and child development in terms of growth, learning and behaviour.
Captain Graham Kallos, with CDSB’s public affairs department, said in a February interview with Postmedia it’s believed firefighting foams used in training exercises from the 1970s until just over a year ago are what caused the chemical to seep into the soil and water at the base.
CDSB Edmonton members practise putting out fuel fires in a northeast area of the base, just south of the Edmonton Garrison Saddle Club, in a pit with a metal structure used to represent the body of a helicopter. Only water has been used in firefighting exercises since 2018.
The base isn’t disclosing which properties outside the base are being tested, citing privacy concerns.
Anyone with questions about the water-use survey are asked to contact the CDSB Edmonton’s public affairs office at 780-973-4011 ext. 8018.
— With files from Lauren Boothby