Media Release, New Mexico Environment Department:
This spring, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will offer Clovis residents living near Cannon Air Force Base and Base personnel the opportunity to have their blood tested for specified per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) free of charge.
NMED issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a contractor to administer the PFAS blood testing program and is seeking to host two events where up to 500 adult volunteers residing within four miles of Cannon Air Force Base will have a small amount of blood drawn and tested for PFAS. In addition, the participants will complete a survey to determine any potential exposure to PFAS. The RFP closes on Feb. 22, 2024. This program is funded and led by NMED, with assistance from the New Mexico Department of Health and the Department of Veteran Services.
For those who elect to participate, individual results will be sent directly to volunteer participants and not shared with state agencies or other organizations. Participants will be provided information on how to limit PFAS exposure and what they can do should their results show elevated levels of PFAS. The aggregated data will be used to better understand PFAS contamination caused by Cannon Air Force Base, the exposure pathways, and overall risks from these contaminants.
“PFAS chemicals are used in so many consumer products that it is likely that most New Mexicans will have some measurable level in their blood,” said Environment Secretary James Kenney. “However, for those who live near military bases like Cannon Air Force Base, the risk to their health from PFAS exposure may be even greater. This data will help us quantify if there are greater risks and inform how we better protect New Mexicans.”
The testing program will determine the levels of PFAS in participants’ blood, attempting to understand both the baseline and potentially elevated levels due to the PFAS groundwater contamination plume stemming from Cannon Air Force Base. To date, the PFAS contamination caused by the U.S. Department of Defense (U.S. DOD) at Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases has cost New Mexicans over $8 million dollars in site assessment, cleanup, litigation, and other costs.
The U.S. DOD’s inequitable response to PFAS sites in New Mexico stands in stark contrast to its approach to PFAS remediation at other sites around the United States, including Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, where the U.S. DOD took responsibility for prompt cleanup. With 715 U.S. DOD sites in the United States contaminated with PFAS, the State of New Mexico is the only state that the U.S. DOD sued in federal court to stop the efforts of NMED to compel cleanup.
PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals used in a variety of products, including food packaging, nonstick cookware, and certain types of fire-fighting materials. PFAS were used in fire-fighting foam at air force bases across the United States, including Cannon Air Force Base. PFAS were discharged into soil at fire-fighting training areas percolated into the underlying Ogallala Aquifer. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they do not easily degrade in the environment due to their chemical properties. Thus, PFAS can build up over time in soil, water, and living organisms and are found in water sources around the world. Growing evidence suggests exposure to some PFAS chemicals can lead to adverse health effects including increased cholesterol, reproductive problems, and cancer. Additional information about PFAS is available here.
Additional details about the testing program, including when and how to participate, will be released later this spring. NMED will also conduct public meetings before and after the blood draw clinics to answer questions about the project and PFAS with community members.
Questions on the risks of PFAS exposure should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.