SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. -- A testing company found the presence of chemicals normally used for fire suppression in Satellite Beach's ground water, the city said Wednesday.

  • Chemicals PFOS and PFOA found in new wells
  • Chemicals were used by military to suppress aviation fires
  • City holding a community meeting Sunday afternoon

A post on the city manager's Facebook page said a verbal report found the two chemicals in the sites of three newly dug wells on city property: one at city hall, one on Jackson Avenue next to Satellite High School, and one at Sea Park Community Park.

"What prompted it was the Department of Defense report regarding the PFOA and PFOS chemicals that were formerly used for fire suppression on aviation fires," said Courtney Barker, Satellite Beach's city manager.

Health concerns about the chemicals

The chemicals are called perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

The chemicals are formally used to suppress aviation fires, but the chemicals can also be found in household products like Teflon and water proof sunscreens, the company says.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the chemicals don't break down, so they stay in the environment for a long time. The CDC believes human exposure to the chemicals is widespread, but at low levels.

According to an EPA fact sheet released in 2017, studies have found associations between chemical exposure and high cholesterol and reproductive issues.

The EPA also says there is suggestive evidence the chemical may cause cancer.

A recent Department of Defense report said the chemicals were found in high concentrations at nearby Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The EPA's benchmark health advisory level for drinking water is 70 parts per trillion. The wells in Satellite Beach fall below that benchmark at 41 parts per trillion.

Ground water is primarly used for irrigation, though, not to drink. The city is talking with state experts to see how this impacts residents. 

"We use that as irrigation, and that could be an exposure to our residents," Barker said.

She said residents may use their own judgment with how they handle irrigating their property.

The written report will be sent out to the public on Friday. A community meeting will be held Sunday at the city's civic center on Cassia Boulevard at 2 p.m.