AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -While the water in Airway Heights in clear to drink again, one Spokane Valley man has a question about where he goes fishing.
Thomas Hylkema goes fishing as often as he can, and recently, he caught a rainbow trout in West Medical Lake.
“Big trout – it was a fist fight getting him into the bag. But I didn't know anything about the contamination in Airway Heights until it was on the news,” he says.
Though the lake is about 10 miles southwest of the base, Hylkema is concerned that there might be PFOA and PFOS contaminants in the meat of the fish he caught.
Fairchild Air Force Base tells us they haven’t tested the lakes yet. Their focus is now on sampling the groundwater that’s being used for drinking as a part of the PFOS/PFOA site investigation. As for if testing would happen in the future, a representative writes “Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) will continue to follow the CERCLA process and use the probability, proximity and pathway criteria to determine if and where future sampling might occur as the Site Investigation continues. We can't speculate as to where the SI may or may not lead AFCEC to sample.”
Currently, the EPA’s health advisory and threshold for safety is only for water. Here’s more from the agency’s website:
“These health advisories only apply to exposure scenarios involving drinking water. They are not appropriate for use, in identifying risk levels for ingestion of food sources, including: fish, meat produced from livestock that consumes contaminated water, or crops irrigated with contaminated water. The health advisories are based on exposure from drinking water ingestion, not from skin contact or breathing. The advisory values are calculated based on drinking water consumption and household use of drinking water during food preparation (e.g., cooking or to prepare coffee, tea or soup). To develop the advisories, EPA considered non-drinking water sources of exposure to PFOA and PFOS, including: air, food, dust, and consumer products. In January 2016 the Food and Drug Administration amended its regulations to no longer allow PFOA and PFOS to be added in food packaging, which will likely decrease one source of non-drinking water exposure.”