Toxic 'Forever' Chemicals Found in Drinking Water in Dozens of Major Cities

drinking water

Tests conducted by an environmental watchdog has found heightened levels of a potentially toxic chemical found in tap water supplies in dozens of cities nationwide.

The report published on Thursday by the Environmental Working Group, found that more than 10 cities across the country, including Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., contain PFAS levels above 20 parts per trillion. At least twenty cities and regions nationwide have PFAS levels above 10 parts per trillion. The EPA limit for PFOA+PFOS are 70 parts per trillion.

EWG's samples were collected by staff and volunteers with the group between May and December of 2019 and analyzed by an accredited independent laboratory for 30 different types of PFAS chemicals. Exposure to such "fluoridated" PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancer, lowered fertility and obesity.

In 44 samples across 31 states, 43 cities exceeded a limit the EWG deemed safe for human consumption.

PFAS, short for poly and perfluoroalkyl is a class of more than 4,000 different chemicals that show up in common household items, such as food packaging, cookware, and other consumer products. The chemical is created by joining carbon and fluorine, one of the strongest chemicals bonds there is, which is crucial to making everyday items resistant to moisture, heat and stains. The chemicals have also been linked to firefighting foams and Teflon, but nationwide tests have pointed to a larger problem with the source of the chemicals. Several states have begun phasing out PFAS containing foam in favor of safer alternatives.

The only sample without detectable PFAS was found in Meridian, Mississippi, which gets its drinking water from wells more than 700 feet deep.

The EWG's study expands on a previous EPA program that was ended in 2015.

“We don’t know how long these communities have been drinking PFAS-contaminated water, but we do know that these chemicals have been used and discharged all across the country for years,” said EWG President and co-founder Ken Cook in a statement.

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