Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on his first workday Wednesday created a task force to look into the military's use of cancer-causing firefighting foam, Military Times reports.
The chemicals, commonly referred to as PFAS or "forever chemicals," have been linked to cancer and have been used in military firefighting foam for more than 50 years.
The stability of the chemicals means they are extremely persistent in our bodies and in the environment. Scientists have ramped up research on the possible health effects of PFAS and found there are potential adverse health impacts associated with exposure, including thyroid disease, obesity, liver damage, cancer, high cholesterol, and hormone suppression.
The group will be responsible for devising PFAS cleanup standards, addressing Public/Congress perceptions of DoD's efforts.
"The Department is committed to taking a strong and proactive stance to address the effects arising out of any releases of these substances from all defense activities including the National Guard and Reserves," Esper wrote in a memo establishing the taskforce. "We must approach the problem in an aggressive and holistic way, ensuring a coordinated DoD-wide approach to the issue."
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