ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England --
A joint Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Air Force Bioenvironmental Engineer survey of perfluorinated chemical compounds found in drinking water was published in March 2018. The study concluded that drinking water at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, Feltwell, Mildenhall and Alconbury are all within safe levels.
The 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Bioenvironmental Engineering flight uses engineering principles to reduce health risks and dangers to Airmen, through checking for pollutants and radioactive materials, implementing environmental protections, monitoring OSHA and NRC work safety standards and permits, and other duties to protect Airmen.
The responsibilities of the 48th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering flight are not just to Lakenheath and Feltwell. They also assist technicians at Alconbury, Croughton and Mildenhall.
“One of our responsibilities is monitoring the drinking water,” said the officer in charge of environmental readiness at the 48th AMDS, Bioenvironmental Engineering flight. “We test for bacterialogicals, chemicals, lead and copper, and we test for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).”
According to a 2016 PFOA & PFOS fact sheet from the United States EPA, PFOS and PFOA are fluorinated organic chemicals used to manufacture carpets, clothing, furniture fabrics, paper packaging for food and cookware required to be water, grease and stain resistant, and according to a report from a 2009 toxicology report from Public Health of England, the chemicals are also used in in aviation hydraulic fluid and the semiconductor and photo processing industries.
“We have different locations that we check every month, and three to four locations that we check every week,” said the NCO. “At those locations we’re focused on bacterialogical, PH and chlorine and radiation in the water system. We also have quarterly requirements for what we call VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds.”
Water is an important resource that must be managed carefully. The hard working and dedicated 48th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineers ensure all base personnel have access to safe drinking water and sanitation around the bases of the United Kingdom.