Cancer fears remain as water testing continues in Brevard County

Residents say water testing results are concerning

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – As water sample test results are being released in certain areas of Brevard County, residents continue to voice concerns about what's behind a possible cluster of cancer cases.

On Wednesday, retested samples at Satellite High School showed perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) was detected at a highest concentration of 13 parts per trillion.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn't have a maximum contaminant level for PFBA in drinking water.

"Even though they say at schools it's only trace amounts and it's safe, it's still a little bit concerning," Satellite Beach mother Carina Albert said.

Testing began earlier this year after a group of Satellite High School graduates raised concerns about contaminants in the water.  At least 20 alumni most of whom graduated within a few years of each other, have gotten various kinds of cancer.

[READ: How chemicals can make their way into groundwater]

"I am optimistic that we are going to get to the truth," cancer survivor Stel Bailey said. "I believe that we are the only people that can save ourselves."

The testing has centered around cancer-causing fluorinated chemicals that have been used in firefighting foams. Nearby Patrick Air Force base used the chemicals for decades.

In July, the city of Satellite Beach conducted groundwater testing at newly dug wells on city-owned property.  According to those results, tests found 41.5 parts per trillion at City Hall, 22.85 parts per trillion next to Satellite High School and 30.13 parts per trillion at Sea Park Community Park.

Satellite Beach's drinking water comes from sources on the mainland, but the presence of chemicals in the ground has increased concerns about contamination of the barrier island's water table.

"If these chemicals are in the ground, we're worried they could somehow find their way into the pipes supplying our water," resident Jonathan Thompson said.

Earlier this month, the city of Cocoa Beach took additional samples of reclaimed water. The results of those tests are expected in the next few weeks.


About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.