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Cocoa Beach groundwater contains cancer-linked chemicals, test results show.

Groundwater samples show levels six times higher than Satellite Beach

Results from tests conducted on groundwater in Cocoa Beach revealed the presence of chemicals some have linked to cancer.

Florida Today reports some of the results in Cocoa Beach could be as much as six times higher than similar tests in Satellite Beach.

One day after the city of Satellite Beach announced it found cancer-causing chemicals in three test wells, Cocoa Beach samples showed the same compounds in its groundwater at levels as much as six times higher than in neighboring Satellite Beach. The high concentrations were discovered in water used to irrigate Cocoa Beach’s city golf course.

While Cocoa Beach’s drinking water comes from sources on the mainland, the latest discovery of the toxic chemicals increases concerns that the contamination of the barrier island’s water table could be more widespread than originally feared with bigger health implications. Besides the groundwater at the golf course, the highest level of the compounds were discovered at a site where sewage from Patrick Air Force Base flows into Cocoa Beach’s sewer system. The chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA),  were widely used in fire extinguishing foams. The chemicals were also used in pesticides, Teflon coatings and a litany of consumer and industrial products. Their use has been phased out but the compounds remain in the environment for decades and are not regulated.

Researchers are finding that even at low levels of exposure, the compounds are implicated in some types of cancer, thyroid defects, immune suppression and pregnancy complications.

Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach and Brevard County representatives met with Patrick Air Force Base officials on Thursday to compare notes on the possible source of the contamination. The most likely suspect are the foams that were used for decades at the base in training drills and putting out fires.

Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach tested for the two compounds after residents raised concerns earlier this year about a spate of local cancer cases in recent years among otherwise young healthy women.

On August 2nd, Cocoa Beach announced combined levels of the two compounds were as follows:

  • 248.3 parts per trillion in a 10-foot-deep well at the golf course’s northern end;
  • 129.6 parts per trillion at a 10-foot-deep well well on the golf course near Banana River;
  • 430.1 parts per trillion where Patrick Air Force Base sewage flows into Cocoa Beach’s sewer system;
  • 284.4 parts per trillion at the Cocoa Beach’s sewer plant’s discharge, right before treated sewage is pumped to reclaimed water storage tanks;
  • 177.2 parts per trillion at the point where all the sewage, including Patrick’s, flows into Cocoa Beach’s sewer plant.

According to the city, more sites are being added for a second round of testing within the next 10 days. The results will be posted when received and analyzed, Cocoa Beach officials said. That will include sewage flowing from spots throughout the city, at various lift stations and from Port Canaveral, city officials said.

By comparison, Satellite Beach’s recent groundwater tests at three wells that ranged from 10 to 20 feet deep were as follows:

  • 41.5 parts per trillion in a well right outside City Hall;
  • 22.85  parts per trillion in a well at Jackson Avenue near Satellite High School and;
  • 30.13 parts per trillion in well at South Patrick Community Park, near Sea Park Elementary School.

The decision to test the water came after Julie Greenwalt, a Jacksonville oncologist and cancer survivor who graduated from Satellite High School, questioned whether local exposures could have contributed to her illness and those of dozens of others in the area in recent years. She pointed to recent federal testing that showed high concentrations of chemicals from firefighting foams in groundwater at Patrick Air Force Base. “We’re going to maintain open communication, because we’re all striving for the same goal — remaining open, honest and transparent,” said Alex Preisser, a spokesman at Patrick. The compounds were among 28 chemicals that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required water systems to test for between 2013 and 2015. Neither Melbourne nor Cocoa’s water systems found any of the chemicals during that round of testing, according to EPA data.

According to the EPA the most common groundwater treatment is extraction and filtration through granular activated
carbon. However, because PFOA and PFOS have moderate adsorbability, the design specifics are very important in  acceptable treatment (EPA 2016b, 2016c). Other potential adsorbents include: ion exchange resins, organo-clays, clay
minerals and carbon nanotubes (EPA 2016b, 2016c; Espana and others 2015). Evaluation of these sorbents needs to consider regeneration, as the cost and effort required may be substantial (EPA 2016b, 2016c).

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    • .5 micron
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