I’ve blogged before about the widespread contamination of our food with “forever chemicals” due to leaching of these chemicals from food packaging containers. And now a recent study by the Environmental Working Group reveals that high levels of these toxic, PFAS chemicals are present in tap water supplies serving dozens of major American cities.
PFAS is an acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances also known as “forever chemicals” because they are so stable, they remain present in the natural environment long after products containing PFAS are phased out of use. PFAS compounds also remain in food packaging, cookware and other consumer products. PFAS chemicals are linked to reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects, as well as high cholesterol and obesity. Research also suggests that vaccines may be less effective on children with high levels of PFAS.
The EWG’s report reveals that 20 cities and regions nationwide – including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Miami and Louisville, Kentucky – contained PFAS levels of at least 10 parts per trillion. Forty-three areas, including New York City, Nashville, Las Vegas and Sacramento, had detectable PFAS at least 1 part per trillion.
The highest concentrations, which exceeded the EPA's guidelines, were found in Brunswick County in North Carolina and in the Quad Cities region of Iowa and Illinois at rates surpassing 100 parts per trillion.
"EWG endorses a health-based drinking water guideline of 1 part per trillion for all PFAS to be protective of children’s health," said study co-author Sydney Evans, a science analyst with the EWG.
A bill requiring the EPA to enforce a maximum contaminant level has passed the House is currently in committee in the do-nothing, obstructionist Senate – where it will surely die.
Meanwhile five states – Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, New Jersey and Vermont – have established maximum contaminant levels, while six others, including Washington, California and New York, have proposed regulations. Here’s hoping that other states will quickly follow suit.