Researchers tested water in 31 states and Washington, DC and found high levels of PFAS in water samples from major metropolitan areas like Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans and suburbs of New York City.
PFAS, which is short for perfloroalky and polyfuoralkyl, are manmade chemicals that have been used for decades for their ability to repel oil and water. They can be found in nonstick products, as well as paint, cleaning solutions and food packaging.
PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they never break down. Once they’re in the environment, they are there to stay.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says PFAS can be quite dangerous to humans. The chemicals can be harmful to our reproductive systems and physical development, and they’ve also been linked to liver and kidney damage.
The EWG recommends the PFAS limit in drinking water be 1 part per trillion. That’s actually 70 times stronger than the recommendations released by the EPA in 2016.
In 2018, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said the “minimal risk levels” for exposure to PFAS should be seven to 10 times lower than what the EPA recommends.
Only three of the cities studied were within the EWG’s recommended PFAS limit: Seattle, Memphis and Tuscaloosa.
The highest levels of the toxin were discovered in Brunswick County, North Carolina, and in Quad Cities, Iowa. There, the water contained more than 100 times the EWG’s suggested limit of PFAS.
Only one tested area – Meridian, Mississippi – showed no traces of PFAS. According to CNN, Meridian draws its drinking water from wells more than 700 feet deep.