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PFAS exposure at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

The Pearl Harbor Naval Complex, which encompasses 12,600 acres of land, was established in 1908. Prior to World War II, the site became the home of the Pacific Fleet, and the Japanese attacked the facility in 1941. Following the war, Pearl Harbor continued to supply the Pacific Fleet. Air Force Base Hickam is the headquarters of Pacific Command (PACAF), the 15th Wing of the Air National Guard, and the Hawaii Air National Guard.

In 2010, the facility is combined with the Naval Base Pearl Harbor to form the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, which serves as a joint military installation. More than $444 million worth of land and infrastructure make up the base's 2,850 acres of property and amenities. It is connected to the neighboring Honolulu International Airport by a set of runways.

AFFF is a fire suppressant that rapidly extinguishes hydrocarbon fuel fires or other flammable liquid flames with a high risk of spreading. It works by obstructing the oxygen required for the fuel to burn, suppressing the fuel vapor, and giving an overall cooling impact that aids in fire suppression. It not only acts swiftly, but it also forms an aqueous coating over the fuel's service, preventing it from rekindling after the fire has been quenched. AFFF was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory in the 1960s. By 1979, it was being utilized at hundreds of military bases throughout the United States, including the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. As efficient as AFFF is, the firefighting foam has come under increasing criticism in recent years as the health risks of these hazardous compounds have been revealed.

What other contaminants are lurking on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam?

Toxic substances on military installations can affect a service member’s health and may result in long-term consequences. Veterans and family members of those who were on active duty or who lived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam may have been exposed to the following toxic chemicals:

  • Heavy metals
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Total petroleum hydrocarbons - a large family of petroleum-based chemical compounds typically found in gasoline, diesel, and oil range organics - were also detected at concentrations exceeding the Department of Health's Environmental Action Level.

U.S. military facilities in Hawaii discharged more than half a million pounds of nitrate compounds into the ocean in 2019, according to recently disclosed government statistics. Nitrate compounds are hazardous chemicals that are frequently found in wastewater treatment plants, fertilizers, and explosives. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's most recent Toxic Discharge Inventory, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam topped the way with 540,000 pounds released.

What diseases can PFAS exposure cause to people who were stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam?

The issue with PFOS and PFOA is that, unlike other chemicals, they do not break down in the environment over time, raising environmental concerns. Because of the high concentrations of PFAS chemicals employed in the AFFF, individuals who lived and worked on specific military sites may be at increased risk of developing certain ailments in the future.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), PFAS in AFFF induces tumors in laboratory animals and may be carcinogenic to humans as well. The IARC classified PFOA as a category 2B carcinogen, which indicates it is "probably" harmful to humans.

The diseases that may occur as a result of toxic exposure, as well as the conditions that entitle you to file a toxic exposure claim as a veteran or a family member of a veteran stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, include:

If you were diagnosed with any of the above-mentioned medical conditions after being exposed to PFAS, you may be eligible to claim compensation from the manufacturer.

Our knowledgeable team can help you file a PFAS claim and get the compensation you deserve

If you have been diagnosed with a linkable illness as a result of exposure to chemicals in firefighting foam, contact us to discuss your legal options. AFFF manufacturers like 3M, Chemguard, Tyco Fire Products, National Foam, and Buckeye Fire Equipment, may have had access to research showing PFAS toxicity in animals as early as the 1960s. By the 1980s, PFAS research showed that people exposed to the chemicals had an elevated risk of certain cancers and adverse health effects. However, these companies continued to produce their products and market them as safe for use.

If you intend to file a claim, contact Atraxia Law. We can help you.

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