Study finds that 45% of tap water in the US is contaminated with PFAS chemicals 

A recent study by the US Geological Survey has found that nearly half of the nation’s tap water contains PFAS chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals.”

For the study, the researchers directly sampled water from 716 locations, which included 269 samples from private wells and 447 from public water sources. 

The analysis of the collected samples revealed that approximately 45% of US drinking water samples collected between 2016 and 2021 contained detectable levels of at least one PFAS chemical. 

Contamination was most prevalent in water sources near urban areas and sites associated with PFAS production or waste accumulation.

The regions with the highest concentrations of PFAS in drinking water were found to be the Great Plains, the Great Lakes, the Eastern Seaboard, and Central/Southern California. 

In response to evolving scientific understanding, the EPA issued health advisories in June 2022, highlighting the heightened health risks posed by PFAS exposure, even at levels that are much lower than previously assumed.

While a significant portion of the US population has been exposed to PFAS to some extent, certain groups, such as industrial workers involved in PFAS production and those living near PFAS manufacturing facilities, may face heightened risks. 

Understanding the health impact of PFAS exposure has always been a challenge. Furthermore, the changing landscape of PFAS types and applications over time complicates efforts to pinpoint the health risks associated with these chemicals. 

The research is ongoing, but the EPA has previously linked exposure to a number of health issues including cancer, obesity, thyroid disorders, high cholesterol, fertility issues, hormonal problems, and liver damage. 

Given the potential risks associated with PFAS-contaminated tap water, the researchers add that it’s important to look at exposure risks and mitigation strategies. Water filtration systems can offer some degree of protection against PFAS contamination, and efforts are underway to regulate PFAS levels in US drinking water.

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