Hawaii Department of Health in Honolulu has found petroleum in Navy water system.
Officials said testing revealed positive results for petroleum in the drinking water. For further analysis, they planned to send samples to California.
The Effects On Military Families
The tests happened after the base received complaints from military families at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. They claimed their tap water smelled like fuel and had an oily look.
Military families took to social media and notified authorities they were experiencing illness due to exposure to the water. Including rashes, nausea, and nosebleeds from the contamination.
Navy spouse Lou Tuttle said that the warning came too late for her 14-year-old son. They had to rush him to the emergency room for stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting. According to Tuttle, her son is diagnosed with exposure to a toxic substance.
“He has a fire in his stomach. His stomach is burning. All of his esophagus hurts,” Tuttle said. “The Navy is still denying there is a problem.”
As complaints began to pile up, the Navy increased its response. They established a phone line for residents to call with concerns.
The Navy’s Response
Initially, Navy officials examined the water wells connected to the affected neighborhoods and found no evidence of fuel-contaminated water.
However, the Hawaii Health Department said that all Navy water system consumers should avoid its resource, even if they don’t detect any contamination.
If the water did smell, they should “avoid using the water for drinking, cooking, bathing, dishwashing, laundry or oral hygiene (brushing teeth, etc.).”
The Navy then announced they were flushing the water lines and told residents to let their water run for three to five minutes to eliminate any contaminants.
Petroleum In Navy Water Long-term Effects
Short-term exposure can irritate the skin or swell and burn through direct contact, depending on the type of petroleum substance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inhaling fumes may cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, or vomiting.
Very few studies have been done on the long-term effects of gasoline and jet fuel exposure on humans. However, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, some animal studies have proved that it may cause cancer and neurological damage.
“The Navy is continuing to collect and test samples, inspect water distribution systems and other parts of the Navy’s water distribution system to identify and characterize the source of the issue with the water,” officials said.
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