From The Intercept:
LORI CERVERA HAD ALWAYS been an active person. She liked camping, playing outdoors with her kids, and practically lived in her running shoes. She didn’t have much patience for illness. So when she developed a dull ache on her right side in May 2014, Cervera took a few Tylenol and did her best to ignore it. But after a few days in which the pain grew sharper and more intense, she went to the hospital, where a CT scan revealed a mass. To her complete surprise, Cervera, a mother of four and grandmother of two who was 46 at the time, was diagnosed with stage 2 kidney cancer. That July she underwent surgery to remove both the tumor and almost half her right kidney.
Cervera returned to her home in Warrington, Pennsylvania, relieved to be alive but also perplexed. She had no family history of kidney cancer, and the diagnosis felt like it came out of left field. So with 22 staples still in her belly and a drainage tube coming out of her wound, Cervera propped herself up in bed and took to Google, intent on learning more about what might have caused her illness.
Her research quickly led her to a recent report on PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8, a chemical that for six decades was used by DuPont in the production of Teflon and other products. Research on people in West Virginia and Ohio who had consumed water contaminated by leaks from a nearby DuPont factory showed probable links between the chemical and six diseases, including kidney cancer.
Cervera soon discovered that the very same chemical, as well as a related one, PFOS, had been found in drinking water in her area. Both were part of a larger class known as perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, “emerging contaminants” that were still being studied — and had yet to be regulated. And, according to public notices from the local water and sewer authorities, both had come from foam that was used to put out airplane fires and train soldiers at two nearby military bases — the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and a former naval air station at Willow Grove, now owned by the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
Cervera knew the bases well. One of her daughters works across the street from the Naval Air Warfare Center, which everyone calls Johnsville. Willow Grove is only about a mile south of her house; she drives by it practically every day. The Wawa convenience store where she buys milk and gas is directly across the street from Willow Grove, which the Navy shut down in 2011. It wasn’t hard to imagine how water from that former base would make its way to her home. The road that runs between the two parallels a creek that floods practically every time it rains.
When they moved 25 miles north to Warrington from Philadelphia in 2000, the Cerveras had found the well at their new home charming. Now, after reading about…