Family sues Air Force over contaminated water issues

PFAS exposure assessment information session

A family that once lived in an apartment building in Airway Heights filed a $4 million federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense Thursday, saying they suffered from health effects of contaminated water. But, public documents show the apartments had no detectable levels of the chemicals.

Chemicals known as PFOS were used at Fairchild Air Force Base for decades and were recently found in drinking water in the communities near the base.

The Commodore family lived in the Copper Landing Apartments from 2014 until 2016, according to the lawsuit filed in the eastern district of Washington.

According to the complaint, Melissa Commodore and her son consumed toxic water and complained multiple times to the landlord over the course of two years. Commodore says there was a strange odor in the water in their unit.

Commodore says her son was 5 years old at the time and that the two of them experienced health issues while they lived there. She says she experienced hair loss, stomach pains and rashes… nose bleeds, severe chest pains [sic] in addition to other risks. She also says her son experienced rashes and the early growth of pubic and underarm hair, along with nose bleeds, bronchitis and asthma. She says they never experienced those symptoms before moving to Airway Heights; she also says her son was absent so much from school because of illness, he was at risk of truancy.

The CDC lists symptoms associated with PFOS as affecting the reproductive system, interfering with hormones, increasing cholesterol levels and increasing the risk of cancer.

She described smelling fumes akin to diesel fuel, feces and rotten eggs coming from water, sink and bathtub drains.

According to several studies of PFOS online, there is no taste or smell associated with the chemicals in drinking water.

This document that shows testing done by Airway Heights shows Copper Landing was tested in June of 2017 and showed no levels of PFOS.

Commodore says her parents and sister would visit and care for her son during this time and that they also experienced symptoms.

Commodore says she called the Airway Heights water department in January 2016 to complain. She said she was told to talk to the Spokane water department, which she says told her to talk to the water department in Olympia. She says she brought that office a container of water which was milky white and that they told her she should make a report just in case.

She also says she brought water to be tested in Spokane, but no one would test it.

Commodore claims she and her family suffered from physical and psychological damage because of the water.

“The Fairchild Air Force base knowingly contaminated public drinking water that myself, my son, and my parents consumed which caused serious health risks and catastrophic medical conditions to each of us,” she writes in the lawsuit.

She does not have an attorney listed; the family is representing themselves.