6 Million Americans Are Drinking Water Contaminated With Toxic Chemicals

Posted: Aug 11 2016, 6:55am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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6 Million Americans are Drinking Water Contaminated with Toxic Chemicals
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  • Harmful Chemicals found in Drinking Water Supply of 6 Million Americans

Many harmful chemicals have been found in the drinking water supply of over 6 million Americans.

Deleterious levels of chemicals have been detected in the drinking water of over 6 million Americans, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

The study got published on August 9, 2016 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

These industrial chemicals have been linked to such deadly diseases as cancer as well as other serious health issues. The chemicals are termed PFASs (polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances).

These dangerous chemicals are found in food wrappers, articles of clothing, Teflon cookware and fire retardant foams. Among the long list of ailments they cause may be included: kidney/testicular cancer, hormone disorders, high cholesterol levels and obesity.

These PFASs have been around since the last 60 odd years. Once these chemicals find a way into the water supply, they are very hard to banish from the environment.

The present wastewater removal schemes do not completely get rid of PFASs. The issue has more to it than meets the eye. That is because data from smaller scale water supplies and wells that serve smaller communities is not available.

These may bring drinking water to over 100 million people. Researchers looked into six types of PFASs. Over 36,000 water samples were collected on a national level by the EPA.

Industrial sites manufacture PFASs. Also at military training sites and at airports, the fire retardant foams contain PFASs. Finally there is the wastewater treatment plants which are just as responsible for this SNAFU.

The discharges from these wastewater treatment plants could contaminate groundwater. Also the sludge that is a waste product and used as fertilizer could be contributing to the pollution of drinking water.

In over 33 states, PFASs were reported in 194 out of 4864 water supplies. Drinking water from 13 states was equivalent to 75% of the unsafe supply figure.

These states included in their purview: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.

66 public water supply points that served 6 million people had at least one water sample which was equivalent to or greater than the unsafe level of PFASs.

The weakness of this study was that the time periods the people lived at the polluted water sites was not taken into account. The risks are there for those people subject to long term exposure.

So this was something that should have been taken into account. Such pollution of the drinking water supply could only lead to a host of illnesses in the consumers.

However, Louisville Water Co. issued a statement on Wednesday against this research. They stated that the water they are supplying to its more than 850,000 customers is safe.

"You may see local media coverage on water quality in the Ohio River Valley," the company stated on its website. "Our water is safe to drink and use."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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