“More than 1,500 drinking water systems across the country may be contaminated with the nonstick chemicals PFOA and PFOS, and similar fluorine-based chemicals, a new EWG analysis shows. This groundbreaking finding comes the same day the Environmental Protection Agency is convening a summit to address PFAS chemicals – a class of toxic chemicals that includes PFOA and PFOS, and that are linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity and other health problems.
From 2013 to 2015, the EPA mandated national testing for PFAS chemicals in public water systems, yet the full results of this testing, funded by taxpayers, were never made public. Water utilities with the highest concentrations of PFAS chemicals have been publicly identified. But the names of utilities with detectable PFAS contamination below the so-called reporting levels of 10 to 90 parts per trillion, or ppt, were not released. Millions of people were not informed that their water supply is contaminated with these chemicals.
The additional water systems with PFAS contamination likely serve tens of millions of people, and it is essential for people in those communities to be informed of this hazard. Eurofins Eaton Analytical, which analyzed a third of the nationwide water samples, found that 28 percent of the water utilities it tested contained PFAS chemicals at concentrations at or above 5 ppt. The percentage of samples with PFAS detections nearly doubled when the laboratory analyzed down to 2.5 ppt. Based on this data, EWG’s analysis suggests that up to 110 million Americans could have PFAS in their water.
In the water testing mandated by the EPA under the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, or UCMR, 198 different water utilities had recorded detections of PFAS chemicals in amounts above the EPA reporting limit. But the reporting limits were very high, using 40 ppt for PFOS and 20 ppt for PFOA, though many labs have much more sensitive detection limits. Some analytical labs are able to detect amounts as small 2 ppt of PFAS chemicals in water.
Based on a reanalysis of the national dataset by Eurofins Eaton Analytical, a water testing lab that processed more than 30 percent of nationwide water samples, EWG estimated how many utilities would likely have contaminated water if the reporting values had been set lower. At a reporting limit of 5 ppt, an estimated 1,046 utilities could have tested positive. If all results down to 2.5 ppt were reported, we estimate that over 1,900 of the 4,920 water utilities tested in the United States would have reported contamination.”
Read the full report by David Andrews