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JB MDL Airmen working hard to provide safe, quality water

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After receiving feedback from residents during the last installation-wide town-hall meeting, a majority of the concerns were related to water quality. One team has their focus on the safety of the residents.

The 87th Aerospace Medicine Squadron (AMDS) Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight is working hard every day to protect the installation’s drinking water.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Alfred Traylor, 87th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight commander, leads a 32-member team of professional engineers and technicians that apply engineering and scientific principles in anticipating, recognizing, and evaluating occupational and environmental health hazards for a base population of 45,000 people.

“My team and I recommend risk control measures and other courses of action that enable risk management decisions and, in some cases, patient care strategies, to ensure force health protection,” said Traylor. “One of our main environmental health responsibilities includes ensuring the quality of the drinking water for 18 different water systems found on the installation as well as ensuring their compliance with all federal, state, and Air Force standards.”

Traylor’s team is required to sample drinking water for various possible contaminants on a regular basis depending on the applicable standard.

“For example, we take total coliform, chlorine, and pH samples on a monthly basis, we sample for disinfection byproducts such as haloacetic acids on a quarterly basis, and we assess nitrates annually,” Traylor said.

Other requirements include sampling for lead and copper and secondary standards such as turbidity and suspended solids every three years.

“Of course, we also sample in the event of a water line break or maintenance in order to ensure any damage repairs or changes to infrastructure are satisfactory and pose no health risks to consumers,” Traylor added. “All of these samples are collected with strict adherence to the training we receive.”

The team also produces an annual Consumer Confidence Report for each water system as required by law and these inform consumers about the origin of their water, how it is treated, as well as sampling results for the previous year and any violations of standards.

According to Airman 1st Class Liam Good, 87th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering apprentice, each sample begins by reviewing proper collection protocols and interfacing with a New Jersey state-accredited laboratory in order to ensure any sample taken will be valid once analyzed. JB MDL’s typical chlorine, pH, and bacteriological samples are taken at locations approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and typically include a clean catch from a running tap for each type of sample.

While pH and chlorine can be determined by direct reading instruments, the bacteriological samples must be incubated for a period of 24 hours to determine presence or absence of bacteria in the water. The Bioenvironmental Engineering team also samples for fluoride, analyzing samples in the flight's in-house water laboratory to ensure that the drinking water is properly fluoridated to prevent tooth decay. Other samples are collected by technicians according to the required protocol and sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis, Traylor added.

“Knowing that my job directly impacts the residents here is a very rewarding feeling,” said Good. “Sampling the quality of water and knowing that it’s being consumed base-wide by residents and workers is a huge responsibility and that’s why I know I have to always produce the best work I can and embody our core values of ‘excellence in all we do’ for our customers.”

According to Traylor, with housing being privatized and run by United Communities, the 87th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight cannot enter a residence to sample water.

“The intent of our drinking water surveillance program is not to sample water at individual residences, but to ensure the quality of the water throughout the entire system, from production to consumption, is safe,” said Traylor. “If residents have specific concerns with their home’s water quality, they should contact United Communities directly. If United Communities feels that there is an issue that pertains to the overall water quality and it is outside of their control, they will contact me in order to discuss individual issues.”

The most up-to-date water information can be found on the JB MDL webpage, under the “Water Quality/PFC Information” link, according to Traylor. Here, one can find the Consumer Confidence Reports as well as sampling data and other information on PFOS/PFOA.

“As always, residents or other interested parties can reach out to me with general concerns on water quality,” said Traylor.

For more information, please call (609) 754-9057.

JB MDL Off-Base PFOS/PFOA Sampling Info
PFC Sites  Packages Distributed  Total Responses  Samples   Response Percentage
Site 4 37 30 30 81%
Site 14 55* 27 27 68%
Site 16 98 72 70 73%
Site 17 77 52 51 68%
Site 18 9 8 8 89%
Total 276 189 186 72%

Note: * = 5 were determined to be on municipal water.

Data current as of June 5, 2018.

PFOS/PFOA Frequently Asked Questions
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A. Two synthetic compounds classified as PFCs, PFOS and PFOA, are components of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a type of fire-fighting foam. AFFF is the most efficient extinguishing method for petroleum-based fires and is widely used across the firefighting industry, to include all commercial airports, to protect people and property.

A. Since the 1970s, the Air Force used this foam at crash sites, in fire training areas and some maintenance hangers at active, Reserve, Air National Guard and former installations. The Air Force is systematically testing for potential PFOS/PFOA releases in soil, surface water and groundwater Air Forcewide where AFFF may have been used.

A. The Air Force identified approximately 200 installations (active, Reserve, Air National Guard and closed) where firefighting foam may have been released and is conducting site inspections to confirm if releases occurred. As of November 2016, the Air Force completed preliminary assessments for 96 percent of the 200 installations. The Air Force is prioritizing sampling based on factors, such as; potential pathways to drinking water, depth to groundwater and potential for contaminate to migrate off base.


A. The Air Force is focused on three lines of effort to address PFOS/PFOA contamination of drinking

water supplies:

 

  • Identify: Researchers identify fire training areas, crash sites and areas at installations where AFFF was used. At locations where a release may have occurred, investigators conduct groundwater, surface water, soil and sediment sampling for verification. If pathways exist to drinking water sources, the Air Force will test public water systems and private wells.
  • Respond: Where PFOS/PFOA levels exceed health advisory levels in drinking water supplies, the Air Force will immediately provide alternate drinking water sources. The Air Force will then identify and initiate a long-term solution to provide safe drinking water, which may include carbon filtration systems, plume-migration control, land use control, etc.
  • Prevent: The Air Force is replacing legacy AFFF with more environmentally responsible AFFF approved for military use and with concentrations below the EPA’s health advisory levels. The Air Force is also evaluating the best approaches to reduce the risk of inadvertent discharges and ensure containment in hangar fire prevention systems.
A. Requests for environmental sampling for PFOS/PFOA by regulatory agency officials are addressed on a case-by-case basis. In cases where a specific local, state or federal regulation or agreement is driving the request, the installation must have reason to believe a release of PFOS/PFOA is probable based on past installation activities, and be able to determine if an exposure pathway exists for the contamination to potentially threaten public health or migrate outside installation boundaries. In the absence of a legal requirement, the Air Force will continue to follow Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) guidance in its systematic approach for addressing PFOS and PFOA Air Force-wide at targeted Air Force environmental sites.


A. The Air Force is testing all drinking water supplies where it is the purveyor. If test results exceed the EPA’s lifetime health advisory level, the Air Force will immediately provide a safe drinking water source and follow the EPA-recommended actions, which include retesting, communicating with local regulators and drinking water officials, proper consumer notification and evaluation of options to reduce PFOS/PFOA concentrations below the lifetime HA.

A. The Air Force does not have authority to pay for blood tests at this time.

A. The Air Force’s priority is protecting human health and drinking water sources. If your well yields PFOS/PFOA above the health advisory, the Air Force will immediately provide clean drinking water. This may include supplying your household with bottled drinking water, connecting your home to a public drinking water supply, or installing a treatment/filtration system on your private well.
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