The Rhode Island Department of Health and the Oakland Association water system are warning residents not to use tap water for drinking, food preparation, cooking, brushing teeth, and any activity that might result in swallowing.

The advisory applies to both private well owners and those serviced by the system, and follows testing that revealed what was described as a “slightly” elevated level of certain man-made chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

According to a release on the issue, in early August, RIDOH’s Center for Drinking Water Quality began working with a group of researchers at Brown University to conduct sampling at approximately 35 selected water systems to collect data on PFAS.

“The systems that were selected for this testing are located within one mile of a facility that could potentially contain these chemicals or may have in the past,” it stated.

The chemicals were found in a sampling at Oakland Association, Inc., which serves approximately 175 people. As a result, the association has recommended that those in the area do not boil water, as it concentrates the chemicals, and bottled water or other licensed drinking water until the level of PFAS is below the health advisory.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is developing a process to provide bottled water at no charge to customers served by the Oakland Association who would not be able to obtain bottled water themselves without financial assistance.

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