PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Andrea Amico moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire after her husband was offered a job at the Pease Trade Port.
The former Air Force base is home two 250 companies and about 10-thousand employees.
After their daughter was born -- finding daycare close to her husband's work was a relief. When their son arrived two years later -- they enrolled him in the same daycare center at 12 weeks old.
'Of all the worries the parents of small children can have -- trust me there are many -- we never once questioned the water at Pease as our children drank the water daily at day care,' said Andrea.
Andrea's husband works at the former base also drank the water along with her two young children -- her entire family.
'My initial reaction was panic, I knew nothing about these chemicals and never even heard about PFC's.'.
Perfluorochemicals -- known as PFCs -- are a class of chemicals. The compounds have been used for decades in a variety of consumer products. At Pease, these chemicals were in foam Air Force firefighters used during training exercise and seeped into the groundwater.
The haven well, located near the runway where the toxic foam was discharged -- supplied most of the base's drinking water -- including both daycare centers.
Water tests of that well revealed levels of one of the compounds was 12 and half times higher than what the EPA considered safe for adults.
The well was shut down in 2014 but 366 children drank the toxic water.
Alayna Davis drank the water while pregnant. Her son drank the water until he was 5 and a half. Michelle Dalton's son drank the water as a toddler.
When state health officials set a limit of 100 people for blood testing, the moms created 'Testing for Pease' demanding testing for anyone who drank the water.
Eventually more than 15-hundred adults and children were tested.
Two PFC compounds were found to be significantly higher in the blood of the Pease group -- compared to the general U.S. population.
Researchers say these compounds remain in the body for years. Federal health officials say exposure to PFC's has been linked to developmental delays, decreased fertility, kidney problems prostate and testicular cancer.
Federal health officials and the Air Force -- responsible for cleaning up former bases -- meet several times of year with the Pease community.
Recently all three moms confronted an Air Force Lt. Colonel about documents which showed that the DOD was aware of health hazards as far back as 1995, yet it took nearly 20 years before the military stopped using the toxic foam.
'Did you know prior to five years ago this was potentially dangerous and was going to pollute millions of people across the country?..No.'
Department of Defense records show that health concerns about the foam reached DOD leadership.
But when did Air Force officials know?
'20 years ago the Air Force didn't have information or data telling us we had to take action, ' said Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph Constantino.
The Pease Moms have spent two years fighting for a national study into the PFC exposure.
Congress has already approved seven million dollars for the project. The director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry now says Pease may not be included because researchers may conduct studies near other bases first.
The moms say so far their children aren't showing any signs of serious health problems. But Alayna says her son is often sick with high fevers that doctors can't explain.
The moms meanwhile won't relent until they get answers about what they fear is ticking time bomb inside their kids.
'I live with the fear that my children will get sick, develop cancer and may not be able to have children of their own.' said Andrea.
Just across the border in Maine, the Navy is expanding its search for potential contamination for PFC's. Samples have been collected from wells on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The base closed in 2011 -- but is no operating as the Brunswick Landing business park.
The Navy, along with state environmental officials, tested dozens of wells on the base. All were below the EPA health advisory. Levels in several surface water sites came back higher than the federal warning but those are not a threat to drinking water.
Dan Moore's home is located just west of the former Naval air station. His well, along with more than 2 dozen others, were tested for PFC contamination. Some PFC's were detected in some, but none were above warning levels.
Moore, who has two young children is relieved but he hopes the Navy continues to monitor his well.
To learn more information about PFC's and exposure go to https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index
Testing for Pease on Facebook for information on monitoring, testing and a potential study by the ATSDR.