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

Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less