(The Guardian) Tom Dart May 23 2019 12:31 Over the last 80 years much of the land surrounding Venetucci Farm was sold to the US army to establish the base now known as Fort Carson and today it is hemmed in by highways. Still with its 200 acres of fields farmhouse and big red barn it is a beloved institution in Colorado Springs. As the only community urban farm left in the sprawling city it is a valuable resource educating thousands of children about agriculture sustainability and healthy eating and known above all for its annual pumpkin giveaways. The autumn pumpkin event has taken place for decades and a local brewer still makes Venetucci Pumpkin Ale but now the pumpkins are bought elsewhere. The produce is no longer available for public consumption because farming activities have stopped. In 2016 irrigation water was found to be contaminated with elevated levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). The foundation that runs the farm has joined forces with a local water district to sue the US Air Force alleging that toxic chemicals used in firefighting foam at a nearby base have tainted the water perhaps for decades prompting health worries and causing economic losses. Similar concerns have been raised about dozens of other bases across the country. But the problem is not limited to areas close to military installations. PFCs and related human-made chemicals more generally known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been virtually unregulated since at least the 1950s. As well as at industrial sites airports and bases PFAS have long been used in household products thanks to their grease- and stain-resistant properties. They are everywhere: from fast-food packaging to carpets and furniture water-repellent clothing and non-stick cookware such as Teflon. The extraordinary resilience that led to them being dubbed forever chemicals" no longer seems such a boon. As more becomes known about their widespread presence in the environment and the potential health risks activists are urging state and federal regulators take action to increase oversight and even ban PFAS outright.
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