Quantcast

Are You Drinking Teflon Contaminated Water?

Health + Wellness

The bad news about a toxic chemical used to make Teflon keeps getting worse.

Perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, was used for decades by DuPont and other companies to make non-stick, waterproof and stain-resistant products. PFOA and related chemicals, which studies show can cause cancer and reproductive disorders, pollute virtually all Americans' blood and pass from mother to child in the womb. Last summer scientists at Harvard and the University of Massachusetts found that PFOA is hazardous at the tiniest doses—hundreds of times smaller than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says is safe.

How could it get worse? Consider:

  • Long known to severely contaminate drinking water near a DuPont plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, PFOA was recently found at high levels in the water supplies of Hoosick Falls, New York and nearby North Bennington, Vermont. Health officials say residents should not use contaminated water for drinking, cooking or brushing teeth.

  • In Hoosick Falls, the EPA warned residents not to drink water with more 100 parts per trillion of PFOA—four times lower than the agency's current non-enforceable health advisory level. But because EPA did not consider the most recent science, the new level is still 100 times higher than what the Harvard-UMass study said is safe.

  • California state scientists just listed PFOA and its chemical cousin, PFOS, as high priority for review and potential addition to the state's official registry of chemicals known to cause reproductive disorders. PFOA contaminates 14 California water systems serving more than 1.4 million people—more than any other state—and adding it to the registry under the state's Safe Drinking Water Act could require expensive treatment of those systems to reduce the pollution.

  • EPA-mandated testing continues to find PFOA in more public water supplies nationwide.

Last August EWG reported that EPA's sampling program found PFOA in 94 water systems serving more than 6.5 million people in 27 states. Since then, reports to EPA by by local utilities have upped the number to 103 water supplies serving nearly 7 million people. (Contamination was not reported from any additional states).

The recently reported PFOA contamination includes:

Photo credit: EWG, from EPA's Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring program

Last summer's testing results reported no water systems contaminated with PFOA above the EPA's previous advisory level, eight systems have had test results at or above the lower level EPA recommended in Hoosick Falls.

Photo credit: EWG, from EPA's Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring program

Keep in mind that the new level from EPA is still much higher than the safe level in the Harvard-UMass study. With evidence mounting that EPA's advisory level is too weak, states are taking action. Besides California's nomination of PFOA to its list of reproductive toxins, the Vermont Department of Public Health considered recent science and set a much more conservative drinking water advisory level: 20 parts per trillion, a standard by which every PFOA-contaminated water supply reported to EPA's is unsafe.

What's more, EPA's testing program only covers water system serving more than 10,000 people, which is why the contamination in Hoosick Falls and North Bennington was not detected. EWG again calls on DuPont and all other former makers of PFOA to immediately disclose all locations where the chemical was produced, used or dumped and for local, state and federal officials to make sure the water in each place is tested.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

DARK Act Heads to Senate, Bill Would Block Mandatory GMO Labeling

Vandana Shiva: Make Monsanto Pay

FDA Officially Belongs to Big Pharma With Senate Confirmation of Dr. Robert Califf

Johnson & Johnson to Pay $72 Million in Lawsuit Linking Talcum Powder to Ovarian Cancer

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Elva Etienne / Moment / Getty Images

By Ketura Persellin

Gift-giving is filled with minefields, but the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) got your back, so you don't need to worry about inadvertently giving family members presents laden with toxic chemicals. With that in mind, here are our suggestions for gifts to give your family this season.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Cheri Bantilan MS, RD, CD

Garlic is an ingredient that provides great flavor to dishes and can be found in most kitchens across the globe.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Claire O'Connor

Agriculture is on the front lines of climate change. Whether it's the a seven-year drought drying up fields in California, the devastating Midwest flooding in 2019, or hurricane after hurricane hitting the Eastern Shore, agriculture and rural communities are already feeling the effects of a changing climate. Scientists expect climate change to make these extreme weather events both more frequent and more intense in coming years.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Echinacea is a group of flowering plants that belong to the daisy family, along with plants like sunflowers, chicory, chamomile, and chrysanthemums.

Read More Show Less
One of the 25 new Long Beach Transit hybrid gasoline-electric buses on April 23, 2009. Jeff Gritchen / Digital First Media / Orange County Register / Getty Images

In Long Beach, California, some electric buses can charge along their route without cords or wires.

When a bus reaches the Pine Avenue station, it parks over a special charging pad. While passengers get on and off, the charger transfers energy to a receiver on the bottom of the bus.

Read More Show Less