US Drinking Water Widely Contaminated With ‘Forever Chemicals:’ Report

Cape Fear River

Cape Fear River

The contamination of USA drinking water with man-made "forever chemicals" is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group.

"We don't know how long these communities have been drinking PFAS-contaminated water, but we do know that these chemicals have been used and discharged all across the country for years", said EWG President and co-founder Ken Cook in a statement.

"The results confirm that the number of Americans exposed to PFAS from contaminated tap water has been dramatically underestimated by previous studies, both from the Environmental Protection Agency and EWG's own research", the report said.

Of tap water samples taken by EWG from 44 sites in 31 states and Washington D.C., only one location, Meridian, Mississippi, which relies on 700 foot (215 m) deep wells, had no detectable PFAS. The chemicals are used in a coating to make products resist heat, oil, grease, stains and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Aga, who is unaffiliated with the study, explained that most research into PFAS' effects are just associations, making it hard to establish stricter regulation at a broader level.

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At this time, the EPA does not have an established health goal for several of the other compounds listed in this report that are contributing to the overall 185.9 ppt sample level, however the PFOA + PFOS and GenX sample levels in this report are also below the provisional health goals mentioned above.

"The EPA guidance for PFOA and PFOS were based on older studies in laboratory animals, yet, new epidemiological research studies - studies of actual people exposed to PFAS chemicals in their environment - show that PFAS chemicals are much more toxic than what EPA previously stated", Olga Naidenko, PhD, vice president of EWG's science investigations, told MedPage Today.

"Sounding the alarm is important, but that is not enough", said actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, who produced the movie Dark Waters about citizens of West Virginia who fought DuPont.

PFAS compounds remain in food packaging, cookware and other consumer products. Nor have we cleaned up any legacy PFAS pollution.

While the chemicals found in Miami-Dade's water did not exceed guidelines set by the federal government, the EWG believes even small amounts of PFAS can be harmful to human health. Only Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had PFAS levels below 1 part per trillion, the limit advocated by EWG.

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Tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group found toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in the drinking water of 43 cities, including major metropolitan areas, the nonprofit organization announced.

What this means for human health is unclear.

PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances also known as "forever chemicals", have been linked to reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects, as well as high cholesterol and obesity.

"In addition, these chemicals exert adverse health consequences not only to adults, but to infants and children". Bottled water is completely unregulated as regards forever chemicals, and there is no guarantee that the levels would be any lower than tap water.

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