Missile Community Cancer Study Round 1 environmental sampling results release

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — The U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and Air Force Global Strike Command released the complete results of the Round 1 Environmental Sampling effort at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and Minot AFB, North Dakota, today.

The environmental sampling effort is half of the Missile Community Cancer Study, designed to sample for a broad range of known or suspected toxic chemicals in missile facilities. Two more rounds of environmental sampling are ongoing or planned, to capture possible seasonal variations. The sampling plan includes nitrates, nitrites, pesticides, semi-volatile organic compounds, diquat, paraquat, dioxin, volatile organic compounds, organophosphates and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).

The other half of the Cancer Study is an Epidemiology Review, which analyzes data across multiple government health databases and cancer incidence registries. Researchers are combing through the databases to determine if a link exists between prior service members (dating back to the 1970s), service in the missile fields, and elevated risks of cancer. That review is expected to be complete in June of 2024.

A full depiction of the Environmental Sampling effort and the way ahead for the study is described in the slides below (See Attachment 1). These slides were originally presented during the Nov. 14 Town Hall hosted by the Air Force Global Strike Command commander, Gen. Thomas Bussiere.

Early in the Round 1 analysis, PCBs were detected on some surfaces in facilities at all three bases. Most were below the EPA’s threshold for remediation, but four surface samples detected PCB levels above the remediation threshold (See Figure 1). Following those results, AFGSC Commander Gen. Thomas Bussiere ordered a thorough cleaning effort in all facilities where any level of PCBs was detected, whether or not they were above the EPA’s standard for remediation.

PCB Survey Results chart

igure 1: A total of 900 samples were taken from surfaces in missile facilities at Malmstrom, F.E. Warren, and Minot AFBs. This table shows the number of samples that detected any level of PCBs, as well as the four samples above the EPA’s standard for mitigation. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Shelby Thurman)

Air Force Global Strike Command also released a graphic today of the underground Launch Control Center (LCC) annotating where PCBs were detected (See Figure 2).

All other test results, which included air, drinking water, surfaces and soil samples, found no contaminants above the levels established by regulatory agencies for remediation.

“From the beginning of the Missile Community Cancer Study, our goal was to be as open and transparent as possible,” said General Bussiere. “I’m grateful to the USAFSAM team for their efforts in collecting the most accurate, in-depth data we have on the environment of our missile facilities.”

study detection locations diagram

Figure 2: Air Force Global Strike Command also released a graphic today of the underground Launch Control Center (LCC) annotating where PCBs were detected as part of the ongoing Missile Community Cancer Study.

The 135-page reports outlining the PCB, air, water, and soil samples for Malmstrom AFB, F.E. Warren AFB, and Minot AFB are located on the MCCS website HERE.

“Our nation’s defense rests on the shoulders of the men and women living and working out of these areas, and ensuring their safety is our top priority as we continue to move through this study,” said Bussiere. “While the slides and information we’re releasing today have already been presented at town halls, I want to make sure it is available to as wide an audience as possible.”

Radon sampling is ongoing and will be conducted quarterly to account for seasonal variations. The first round of radon test results is undergoing the final stage of analysis and will be released when complete.

For more information or questions (including to submit a question of your own), visit the MCCS website at: https://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/Resources/Missile-Community-Cancer-Study/

More information about PCBs: https://www.epa.gov/pcbs/learn-about-polychlorinated-biphenyls

List of referenced documents: