A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey reveals that approximately 45% of the nation’s tap water might be contaminated with at least one type of PFAS, or “forever chemicals”. The study, which is the first of its kind to compare PFAS levels in tap water from both public and private supplies across the country, highlights the pervasive presence of these chemicals in our water sources and their potential health risks.
- The study involved testing water samples from over 700 locations across the country during a five-year period. It found that PFAS concentrations were similar between public and private water supplies, with high prevalence in urban areas and potential PFAS sources like airports and wastewater treatment plants.
- PFAS, or “forever chemicals”, are synthetic compounds that build up in people, animals, and the environment over time. Research has linked exposure to certain PFAS to adverse health effects in humans, including an increased risk of certain cancers, obesity, high cholesterol, decreased fertility, and developmental issues such as low birth weight in children.
- The U.S. Geological Survey study highlights the importance of collecting PFAS data from private wells, which are not regulated by the EPA in the same way as public water sources. It also points out that more comprehensive testing should be done at the point of exposure, such as directly from a homeowner’s tap.
- For concerned individuals, the EPA recommends regular testing of their drinking water for PFAS and comparing results with their state’s standards or those in EPA advisories. Certain water filters using technologies like activated carbon treatment and reverse osmosis can reduce PFAS levels in water.
- Federal efforts are underway to limit ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water. The EPA proposed the first federal drinking water limits on six forms of PFAS, which could potentially reduce exposure for nearly 100 million Americans. However, these regulations would not cover Americans who get their water from private wells, highlighting the need for individual testing and filtration measures.