Alaska Action on Toxics reports confirms contaminants in Anchorage, Fairbanks area waters

Independent water quality testing by Alaska Action on Toxics confirms the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in Anchorage lakes, Ship Creek waters downstream from Joint Base Elmendorf/Fort Richardson, and some lakes in the Fairbanks area.

The announcement on Tuesday emphasizes the need for urgent action to protect public health as well as wildlife, said Adam Ortega, communications coordinator for the Alaska Action on Toxics.

Officials said they are calling upon the Alaska State Legislature to enact legislation during this session to protect our waters and public health, including provisions that:  

  • Establish enforceable and health protective drinking water standards for PFAS as a class; 
  • Phase out the use of PFAS in firefighting foams and other product categories;
  • Provide safe, alternative drinking water sources to affected communities; 
  • Provide medical monitoring for people who have been exposed to PFAS and allow for regular tests and procedures to detect latent diseases or other health impacts;
  • Prevent incineration of PFAS wastes and contaminated soils;
  • Regulate PFAS as a class and eliminate all non-essential uses of PFAS;
  • And require comprehensive monitoring.  

The report also urges the Legislature to institute a comprehensive monitoring program and establish surface water action levels to protect aquatic life and public health. Safe and effective alternatives to the use of PFAS-based firefighting foams are readily available and in use at major airports, military installations, and oil and gas facilities throughout the world.

Currently, there are 469 sites in Alaska where PFAS contamination has been identified in soil and water — according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation — and this number is increasing with additional sampling.