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Toxic “forever chemicals” are far more widespread through the country’s drinking water systems than previously known, according to new EPA data released recently.
An analysis conducted by USA TODAY has revealed that hundreds of community water systems in the United States, which provide drinking water to more than 27 million citizens, have been found to contain at least one of 29 types of chemicals in concentrations that surpass the Environmental Protection Agency’s new lower reporting limits.
PFAS, also known as Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, have been widely used for years in nonstick coatings, water-repellent fabrics and other household and industrial products. However, they are now known to increase the risk of some cancers and cause other health effects.
Due to their near indestructible nature, these chemicals have earned the nickname “forever chemicals” because they accumulate over time in human bodies.
Jamie DeWitt, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at East Carolina University, emphasized that “without knowledge, one cannot implement any changes in their home.”
He went on to state that the new proposed limits provide information for communities and households about what they need to do in order to reduce their exposure if it is higher than the limit.
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This map shows water systems included in the EPA’s records, as of Aug. 17. It’s based on boundaries developed by SimpleLab, a water-testing company.
The EPA estimates that thousands of public water systems will submit additional PFAS sample results over the next few years, and the new data is just a fraction of these findings.
Of the nearly 2,200 systems included so far, 431 measured PFAS above the EPA’s reporting levels, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the data. That’s almost 20%.
Ten years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that water systems test for only a few PFAS compounds with much higher permissible levels. Out of the almost 5,000 systems that were tested, only 177 reported surpassing these limits – equating to 4% of them.
An analysis conducted by USA…