May 13, 2019

Report Finds 43 U.S. States Are Exposed to PFAS

A report claims 43 states are exposing millions to PFAS in drinking water

A report claims 43 states are exposing millions to PFAS in drinking water

A report has found that individuals in almost every state in the U.S. are exposed to per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. The report, by non-profit Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University, found that 43 states have locations contaminated with PFAS chemicals.

Compiled information from Pentagon data and water utility reports are included in the study. According to CBS News, the study shows around 19 million people are exposed to contaminated water. The 610 contaminated locations range from public water systems, military bases, industrial plants and civilian airports.

"This should be frightening to all Americans in many ways," said David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, to CBS News. "These chemicals... don't break down in our body and they don't break down in our environment and they actually stick to our blood. So levels tend to increase over time."

In a statement, the Environmental Working Group said its interactive map is the most comprehensive resource available to track PFAS contamination in the U.S.

"The updated map shows that PFAS contamination is truly a nationwide problem, impacting millions of Americans in hundreds of communities," said Phil Brown, a professor of sociology and health sciences at Northeastern University and director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute.

President of the Environmental Working Group Ken Cook claims the U.S. EPA has failed to address PFAS contamination with “the seriousness this crisis demands.” Cook has studied PFAS compounds for almost two decades, according to CBS News.

"EPA must move swiftly to set a truly health-protective legal limit for all PFAS chemicals, requiring utilities to clean up contaminated water supplies," Cook told CBS News.

The EPA has two different categories of drinking water standards; a primary standard focusing on harmful contaminants in water, and a secondary standard focusing on water that causes skin and tooth discoloration. The Environmental Working group said, “the EPA does not have a legally limit for PFAS chemicals in drinking water.”