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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

West Plains residents can now sign up for free PFAS drinking water testing

West Plains residents can now sign up to have their private or shared well tested for PFAS. The service is free and will be conducted by the Washington Department of Ecology.

The sampling request form can be completed online on Ecology’s website or by calling 509-385-2290. Testing will begin in early March among approximately 300 wells. Eligible wells range from the Spokane River to the east, Hayford Road to the west and I-90 to the south.

“To ensure people are drinking clean water, a coalition of agencies and community partners are working together to sample drinking water and study groundwater quality in the West Plains. The goal is to better understand the extent and severity of PFAS contamination beyond the boundaries currently being addressed in sampling conducted by Fairchild Air Force Base,” an Ecology press release reads.

PFAS are a family of over 10,000 long-lasting human-made chemicals used in commercial and industrial products. The West Plains has been exposed to high levels of the chemicals from firefighting foam that was used at Fairchild Air Force Base and the Spokane International Airport.

Fairchild Air Force base has been conducting well testing for many West Plains residents west of Hayford Road. Those who believe they may be eligible for Fairchild testing can contact its public affairs office at 509-247-5705.

According to the Air Force base website, Fairchild has tested 427 private wells as of December, and 107 of those wells have more that 70 PFAS parts per trillion – a level the EPA says triggers a health advisory to limit further exposure.

To test the water, samples will be collected by the Department of Ecology from household faucets or from a source leading into the home’s water treatment system. Contractors will secure access forms with homeowners and residents before performing the work.

Residents will be given results from the test after approximately a month. If results show PFAS levels higher than Washington’s recommended health safety levels, the state will “take interim actions, such as supplying safe drinking and cooking water or point-of-use water filtration systems,” according to the press release.

Data collected from the tests will aid in the state investigation and cleanup of PFAS in the area, which will provide “more permanent solutions,” it added.