EPA data finds more than 70MILLION Americans are living in homes with tap water that is laced with hormone-warping ‘forever chemicals’… is YOUR area affected?
More than 70 million Americans drink from tap water that contains toxic ‘forever chemicals’ linked to cancer, official data indicates.
These microscopic, man-made chemicals, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), can take thousands of years to break down in the environment or in the human body, hence the name ‘forever chemicals’.
They are linked to several lasting health problems, including various types of cancer, hormone disruption and liver damage and the health problems they cause quietly cost the US $250 billion a year in health care.
The new results showed that PFAS were present in 33 percent of the systems tested by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – with contamination most common in densely populated coastal cities.
More than 70 million Americans have drinking water that has tested positive for toxic ‘forever chemicals’, research has shown
PFAS is a common contaminant in many household items from cookware to hamburger wrappers. It can remain in the environment as well as human tissue for years, even decades, before being cleared
The EPA released data on Feb. 1, reflecting tests conducted in 2023 at 3,700 water systems across the country, which account for one-third of public water supplies.
The results were then extrapolated and applied to population figures in an analysis by the activist organization Environment Working Group (EWG).
“The full extent of PFAS contamination is likely much more widespread,” an EWG spokesperson said, because the report only provides a snapshot of the situation in the US.
The worst hit areas are along the East Coast, including New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
The main purpose of PFAS compounds is to repel water and oil, which is what makes non-stick cookware so much easier to clean and why certain jackets and tents can withstand rain.
PFAS can seep into the water supply simply by washing the dishes. The compounds can also end up in our food if the packaging is made greaseproof – think of fast food cheeseburgers – or if the non-stick coating on pots and pans starts to deteriorate.
PFAS are also common in pesticides used to feed crops.
This produces chemical-rich runoff that can enter the drinking water supply.
In March 2023, the EPA proposed the first federal limits for PFAS in drinking water.
The agency said water cannot contain more than four parts per trillion, for PFOA and PFOS, which is the limit of detection for both chemicals.
Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs, said: “There are many other steps we need to take to reduce PFAS contamination, including ending non-essential uses of PFAS, ending industrial discharges of PFAS into the air and water, cleaning up legacy PFAS contamination, and proper disposal of PFAS waste.’
About 270 million Americans rely on public sources for their drinking water, while another 40 million use private wells, and all of them could be affected.
The situation looks even worse at the local level, with certain cities and neighborhoods’ drinking water sources containing levels of PFAS far exceeding what the EPA considers safe.
The problem has received increasing attention in recent years, partly due to increased media focus, as well as the promotion of testing methods that can detect the chemicals in low levels in the environment and in people.
And a growing body of research into the effects of PFAS exposure has brought to light the fact that even low levels of the chemicals can be toxic.
Unfortunately, they are almost everywhere, from non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers and popcorn bags, and stain removers, to cosmetics and firefighting foam.
‘Forever chemicals’ are so called because they break down incredibly slowly in the environment and can remain in the body for decades or even longer before being cleared.
Some varieties of PFAS have been shown increases levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol which contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which slowly blocks blood flow in the arteries, greatly increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
Long-term exposure to PFAS – which is not out of the question given its constant presence in homes – can seriously damage the liver.
US government researchers concluded in 2022 that when humans and rodents were exposed to the three common varieties of PFAS, they showed increased levels of an enzyme called ALT, a marker of liver damage, in the blood.
PFAS also disrupts the delicate hormone balance that has profound effects on our mental and physical health. These include sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone which, when tampered with, can affect reproductive health and fertility.
Women exposed to PFAS during pregnancy have higher risks of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, a type of high blood pressure. Babies exposed to the chemicals in utero, meanwhile, are at higher risk for low birth weight and increased risk of childhood obesity and further infections.
The disruption of normal hormone regulation can also lead to serious damage to the thyroid gland.
There is also evidence that exposure over a long period of time can contributes to cancer riskespecially in the kidneys and testicles.