Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ contaminate USA drinking water more than previously known

Pablo Tucker
January 26, 2020

Tap water samples collected by the EWG from 44 sites in 31 states and Washington DC, only one location, Meridian, Mississippi, which rests on wells 700 feet (215 m) deep, had no PFAS detectable.

In addition to Miami, cities including Philadelphia, Louisville, New Orleans, and Wilmington were among the other high-populous metro areas containing some of the greatest levels of PFAS chemicals in tap water.

Since 2001 the EPA has been aware of the issue and threat PFAS pose to human health in a contaminated drinking water supply.

Previous studies have linked PFAS with a variety of health problems, including cancer and high cholesterol. PFAS get their name, "forever chemicals" because once released they do not break down in the environment and can build up in the blood stream and major organs. "Once they're there, they're there forever". That's why EWG sometimes refers to them as "forever chemicals". While Knappe believes that standard is "a good goal", he said it would be hard to meet given the technical limitations of analyzing precise PFAS concentrations at very low levels. "We are now fully cognizant of the dangers of PFAS contamination to our health and the health of our children - it's something we will spend the rest of our lives keeping an eye on".

EWG didn't provide its testing locations but tests conducted in Miami in July past year showed PFAS levels of 56.7 parts per trillion, below the federal advisory level but much higher than EWG's recommended level of 1 ppt.


"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.

"The more we look at the newer ones, we're seeing the same kinds of toxicity", Evans said.

But Knappe pointed out that PFAS concentrations in water sources can fluctuate over time. "DDT and pesticides go in to our fat". "On average, six or seven different PFAS chemicals were detected in these samples".

The environmental group has also set up a petition to lobby congress into cleaning up PFAS contamination and prosecute those responsible.

The council is also backing away from its initial proposed ordinance banning anyone from using or disposing of PFAS compounds within the city.


"There are no federal limitations on their use, on their discharge or on their presence in drinking water", Evans said.

The city of Tucson is putting off suing to force cleanup of its per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-tainted groundwater by the U.S. Defense Department and other parties for their alleged role in the pollution, reported Arizona Daily Star.

"People tend not to care about cleaning up after there is an aviation accident", Rediske said.

Brunswick County's leadership recognizes that high quality water is of paramount importance to our customers and residents and agree that reverse osmosis is the most effective PFAS removal technology, which is why the Board of Commissioners and county administration are embarking on a project to install an advanced low-pressure reverse osmosis treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant, as well as increase capacity at the plant to support the county's growth.


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