Residents near Luke AFB offered bottled water after chemicals detected

Tests for contaminated water will continue within a 1-mile radius of Luke Air Force Base. The Air Force plans to have a filtration system up and running in April. (File photo by Nicole Neri/Cronkite News)

The Air Force is providing bottled water to some homeowners and businesses east of Luke Air Force Base in response to groundwater contaminated with potentially harmful substances used to fight fires.

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Sampling by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and Valley Utilities Water Co. showed potentially harmful levels of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate in local drinking water.

The substances help create protective coatings, useful in such items as stain-resistant carpet, nonstick cookware and a foam to fight fuel fires.

Scientists call them “forever chemicals” because they linger in the environment and build up in humans, fish and wildlife.

The EPA does not regulate them but has established a safety threshold of of 70 parts per trillion based on animal studies, which link higher exposures to fetal development issues, liver damage and cancers.

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The Air Force has sent letters to about 6,000 people in 1,600 residences in Glendale, Litchfield Park and unincorporated Maricopa County, a base spokesman told The Arizona Republic.

The Air Force plans to have a filtration system up and running in April, testing will continue on water within a 1-mile radius of the base.

Bottled water is available for pickup until March 22 at 7011 N. El Mirage Road, Glendale. The center is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Eligible residents should bring their notification letter or water bill, along with a photo ID.

For additional information, call 844-610-8899.