New tests find widespread PFAS drinking water contamination

Drinking water in dozens of cities across the U.S. is contaminated with toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), according to a new study, and the contamination appears to be more widespread than previously thought.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a watchdog organization, tested tap water samples from 44 places in 31 states. Only one location had no detectable PFAS, according to a January 22, 2020 MedPage Today article. On average, six or seven different types of PFASs were found in the samples.

PFASs, known as “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in the environment and in human bodies, are a group of man-made chemicals with water- and grease-resistant properties. PFASs are found in products ranging from nonstick cookware to waterproof clothing to firefighting foams.

“PFAS have been linked to numerous health conditions already, such as excess weight gain, poor bone health, diabetes, and certain types of cancer,” said Qi Sun, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was not involved with the EWG study. “In addition, these chemicals exert adverse health consequences not only to adults, but to infants and children.”

Read the MedPage Today article: PFAS Chemicals Found in Drinking Water in Dozens of Cities

Learn more

Understanding the risks of ‘forever chemicals’ (Harvard Chan School news)