PFAS Detected in More U.S. Communities than Previously Thought

January 24, 2020
Number of U.S. communities exposed to PFAS is higher than previously thought
Number of U.S. communities exposed to PFAS is higher than previously thought

A new report this week from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that per- and polyfluroalkyl substances (PFAS) have contaminated our drinking water supply much more than officials believed. The EWG commissioned a set of lab tests that found traces of PFAS in the drinking water of numerous cities, including major metropolitan areas such as Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans. This means potentially that the number of Americans who have been exposed to the "forever chemical" through contaminated drinking water is much higher than initially reported by previous studies.

The samples collected by EWG varied in the level of PFAS, from less than 1 part per trillion (ppt) in areas such as Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to almost 186 ppt in Brunswick County, N.C. EWG scientists believe PFAS is likely detectable in major water supplies around the country and in places where contamination has not been publicly reported by environmental agencies.

Currently there is no concrete federal regulation regarding the level of PFAS in our drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a non-enforceable limit of 70 ppt but has yet to establish a maximum contaminant level (MCL). Health issues linked to PFAS include interference with the growth, learning and behavior of children; with the body's natural hormones; increase the risk of cancer; and more.

PFAS and its associated chemicals (PFOS, PFOA) were recently highlighted in the feature film Dark Waters starring Mark Ruffalo.

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