Quantcast

6 Million Americans in 33 States Are Drinking Toxic 'Teflon Chemicals' With Their Water

Popular

By Nika Knight

At least 6 million Americans in 33 states are being exposed to unsafe levels of industrial perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) chemicals in their drinking water, found a study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

"For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities were allowed to be used and released to the environment and we now have to face the severe consequences," one researcher said.Paul Domenick / Flickr

"And the available water data only reveals the tip of the iceberg of contaminated drinking water," said study co-author Dr. Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The Washington Post details the researchers' findings:

194 of 4,864 water supplies across nearly three dozen states had detectable levels of the chemicals. Sixty-six of those water supplies, serving about six million people, had at least one sample that exceeded the EPA's [Environmental Protection Agency] recommended safety limit of 70 parts per trillion for two types of chemicals—perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

PFOA and PFOS chemical compounds—including C8, popularly known as the Teflon chemical—are extremely dangerous to human health and despite an EPA advisory released earlier this year and increasing calls for action, research shows they are near-ubiquitous in the U.S.

"Virtually all Americans are exposed to these compounds," Xindi Hu, the study's lead author and a doctoral student at Harvard's Department of Environmental Health, told the Post. "They never break down. Once they are released into the environment, they are there."

Moreover, the study also notes that research suggests "that exposure to these chemicals can make people sick, even at or below the concentration recommended as acceptable under the EPA health advisory," according to the Gazette-Mail.

"The EPA advisory limit ... is much too high to protect us against toxic effects on the immune system," said Grandjean to the Gazette-Mail.

PFOAs are the contentious center of a years-long legal battle against DuPont, which manufactured the chemical for decades—and dumped it into public waterways—despite knowing that it was severely harmful to human health and the environment. Thousands of personal injury cases are currently pending against the chemical giant.

The Gazette-Mail further reports:

DuPont and other companies have agreed on a voluntary phase-out of the chemical, but researchers noted in this week's study that declines in production in the U.S. and Europe have been offset by increases in developing regions such as Asia. Scientists have also been increasingly concerned about chemical contamination of consumer products and the new study provides important details about the potential threats from waste disposal practices and varying uses of the substances.

The dire situation is a result of decades of weak or no regulations, as Hu remarked to the Harvard Gazette: "For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities, such as [PFOAs], were allowed to be used and released to the environment and we now have to face the severe consequences."

"In addition, the actual number of people exposed may be even higher than our study found," Hu continued, "because government data for levels of these compounds in drinking water is lacking for almost a third of the U.S. population—about 100 million people."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Artist's conception of solar islands in the open ocean. PNAS

Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS, as NBC News reported. The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Marcos Alves / Moment Open / Getty Images

More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the 'emergency' use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres?

EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, "that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to spray."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
View of downtown Miami, Florida from Hobie Island on Feb. 2, 2019. Michael Muraz / Flickr

The Democratic candidates for president descended upon Miami for a two-night debate on Wednesday and Thursday. Any candidate hoping to carry the state will have to make the climate crisis central to their campaign, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
A pumpjack in the Permian Basin. blake.thornberry / Flickr

By Sharon Kelly

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal featured a profile of Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, whose company is known among investors for its emphasis on drawing oil and gas from the Permian basin in Texas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Craig K. Chandler

The federal government has available to it, should it choose to use them, a wide range of potential climate change management tools, going well beyond the traditional pollution control regulatory options. And, in some cases (not all), without new legislative authorization.

Read More Show Less
Denis Poroy / Getty Images

By Dan Gray

Processed foods, in their many delicious forms, are an American favorite.

But new research shows that despite increasing evidence on just how unhealthy processed foods are, Americans have continued to eat the products at the same rate.

Read More Show Less

By Sarah Steffen

With a profound understanding of their environmental surroundings, indigenous communities around the world are often cited as being pivotal to tackling climate change.

Read More Show Less