Kylie Ford '20

Kylie Ford

Major: Environmental Studies, Philosophy
Bio: Kylie Ford grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where she fell in love with the natural world. This love led her to Fordham University, where she learned of the importance of public policy in protecting the natural world during the ongoing climate crisis. She plans to use her education to foster understanding of and actions geared towards mitigating the climate crisis in whatever ways she can.

Title of Research: There Must Be Something in the Water: Understanding PFAS Contamination of Groundwater as a National Security Issue
Mentor: Professor John van Buren
Abstract: This report addresses the widespread pollution of domestic groundwater resources with Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) caused by firefighting activities performed at military installations across the United States. Two former military bases in Southeastern Pennsylvania are used as a case study: The Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Warminster and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NASJRB) in Horsham. Chapter 1 gives a history of domestic military bases from the perspective of the infrastructure buildup and downsizing that occurred over the 20th Century, along with the base cleanup process and environmental degradation revealed during redevelopment. The chapter then gives specifics about the base cleanup process. Chapter 2 delves into the ongoing human and environmental health concerns caused by the pollution of NADC and NASJRB. Chapter 3 examines the state- and federal-level water quality and hazardous materials laws in place applicable to the pollution of groundwater with PFAS. Chapter 4 examines and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 and its role in the management of PFAS pollution caused by the DOD, then uses the nationwide public health crisis caused by PFAS to argue that comprehensive national security requires the defense of environmental health. Chapter 5 details the developments in PFAS-related public policy that have occurred over the past two years. Chapter 6 concludes the paper by urging for parties responsible to regulate PFAS and other hazardous chemicals responsibly and advocating for the DOD to recognize the critical role that environmental health plays in safeguarding national security.