Pfas is one of the most commonly used firefighting foams and it has been found to contaminate groundwater and drinking water. Pfas is a concern because these chemicals are very toxic. They can cause cancer and some species could be endangered.
The chemicals in firefighting foams like PFAS, which were first developed for the pulp and paper industry and are today manufactured around the world, can pop up unexpectedly. In reality, they are increasingly being found across the U.S. in groundwater or drinking water supplies. This article briefly examines the history of PFAS and how they’ve begun to pollute our waterways. What exactly is a contamination map?
PFAs in drinking water
A class of flame retardants that are known to cause cancer and other health problems has been detected in drinking water nationwide, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The study found that concentrations of two types of PFASs-perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)-have increased across the US by 182% and 205%, respectively. These chemicals are widely used in products such as Teflon, wrapping paper, and food packaging.
This is the first study to look at PFASs in groundwater and drinking water throughout the US, and it’s one of the largest investigations to date into where these pollutants are coming from. In some cases, PFASs have been found at incredibly high levels in municipal water supplies—on par with levels found in industrial effluents. As a result, residents in numerous states may be exposed to these chemicals through their drinking water.
What is PFAS?
PFASs are a type of environmental pollutant that has been linked to cancer and other health concerns. The widespread use of PFASs in everyday objects, like carpeting, clothing, and food packaging, has made them difficult to avoid.
In the US, PFASs have been found in drinking water supplies near military bases and industrial sites. In some cases, the contaminants have spread from groundwater to drinking water reservoirs. There is still much we don’t know about PFASs, but regulators are working hard to learn more about their potential impacts on human health.
Where does Pfas come from?
Pfas is a controversial chemical that has been linked with health problems. It is often found in environmental contamination, but…
Pfas is a chemical that has been linked with health problems. It is often found in environmental contamination, but it can also be found in drinking water. Where does Pfas come from?
A map of PFAS levels in drinking water
As PFAS contamination levels in drinking water swell, states are starting to see the potential impacts of these compounds on human health. PFAS have been found in groundwater and wastewater across the United States, with concentrations peaking in some areas. A map of PFAS levels in drinking water is below, compiled by Environmental Working Group (EWG) specifically for this article.
The highest concentrations of PFAS have been found near military bases and industrial sites, where the compounds are often used in manufacturing or as coatings on equipment. Testing has also shown high levels of PFAS in public water systems near schools and other sensitive areas. In some cases, these systems serve as the main source of drinking water for tens of thousands of people.
Pfas may be harmful to humans both when they’re consumed and when they’re exposed to them through the environment. They can disrupt thyroid function and fertility, harm the immune system, increase cancer risks, and more. The long-term health effects of exposure to PFAS are still unknown, but scientists are urgently investigating how these compounds are affecting people across the U.S. courtesy of the Environmental Working Group.
Different states’ drinking water standards for pfas
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a report which shows that PFAS contamination is spreading from groundwater to drinking water. The study showed that in 27 states, at least one body of water contains levels of PFAS that exceed the EPA’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. The contamination is coming from both public and private wells, as well as from agricultural activities.
The EPA has set an advisory limit for PFAS of 3 parts per trillion in Drinking Water Act regulations, but the agency says that some water may have levels up to 10 times higher. The agency has recommended that states take steps to reduce the contamination, including legislation to ban or limit the use of PFAS in manufacturing and by requiring greater scrutiny of industrial discharge into waterways.
A recent study has found that US groundwater can be contaminated with a type of chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. This chemical is used to make some types of non-stick and heat-resistant surfaces and has been linked to cancer in humans. The contamination was found to spread from groundwater bottles, which were then drawn up into drinking water supplies. While this contamination is still considered low risk, the widespread use of PFOA could lead to increased health risks for people who consume water containing it.