It’s been more than two years since PFAS chemicals leaking from Navy property were discovered in the Town of Coupeville’s water, the same water students and employees of the Coupeville School District drink.
School officials serving the district extending well beyond Coupeville’s borders have finally decided to provide them PFAS-free water.
This writer attended the January and February school board meetings requesting that PFAS-free water be provided and that parents be informed about the contaminated water their children are drinking.
The good news is that PFAS-free water coolers will now be placed in school halls and the gym. The bad news is that school officials won’t tell parents and students why, and that PFAS contaminated water will still be there for students to drink.
Coupeville says its water is safe, but the Navy’s decision to pay for filtering the town’s water is tacit admission that it’s not so safe after all.
In fact, poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances exceed the health advisories of an increasing number of states. PFOA, one of five PFASs in the water, is linked to a host of health harms.
Amounts are several times higher than the minimum risk levels proposed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. PFHxS, a sister chemical found in similar amounts, is linked to childhood development and learning problems.
Bringing PFAS-free water dispensers to the schools, which the district’s new superintendent made happen, will reduce exposures. However, school officials refuse to notify students and parents about the PFAS contaminated water that will still be dispensed from school water fountains. Parents won’t know to tell their children to drink from the new PFAS-free water coolers instead of the fountains.
School officials claim PFASs don’t need to be mentioned because the water fountains are hardly used. This transparent excuse to keep from embarrassing the Navy and town might avoid some political fallout, but it makes for fake news and downplays the seriousness of a nationwide contamination problem.
Worse yet, it denies parents the opportunity to make an informed choice to protect their children. As for the children, they get a bad lesson about leadership and the need to speak truth to power.
Until the town sends PFAS-filtered water to the schools, the water fountains should be turned off and people told why.