“Faced with an inquiry in 2010 following reports of possible high doses of contaminants, the ECUA assured the Pensacola City Council its water supply remained safe for human consumption.

But based on recent information first reported by Politico this month, the veracity of those assurances is now unclear…

The issue casting doubt on the potability of Pensacola’s water centers on a pair of substances from the per- and polyfluoroalkyl class of chemicals known as perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOA and PFOS. The contaminants are not regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act or Florida statute, which means the substances can legally appear in the state’s drinking water.

The chemicals have been used in products like Teflon and firefighting foam. Their presence has previously been documented in the Pensacola region’s drinking water and in other sites across the country. The Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent health advisory for the substances in 2016 warns that certain levels of exposure have been linked to developmental effects to fetuses or breastfed infants, various cancers, liver damage and immune disorders…

Because federal or Florida laws do not regulate PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, ECUA does not regularly test for the substances. But the utility has in the past confirmed the presence of the contaminants in the Pensacola region’s drinking water at levels higher than the new threshold of exposure the HHS assessment would apparently advise.

In its 2016 Water Quality Report, ECUA acknowledged tests conducted in July 2016 on its Spanish Trail Well detected the presence of PFOA at .019 parts per billion and PFOS at an average level of .04 parts per billion. Those measurements converted would equal 19 parts per trillion and 40 parts per trillion, respectively—each above one-sixth of the EPA’s health advisory for the chemicals.

Additionally, in a lawsuit filed by ECUA against manufacturers 3M Co., DuPont and Solutia Inc. in 2009, in which the utility sought damages for the presence of PFOA and PFOS in its water, it was disclosed that tests by an environmental firm hired by ECUA identified the contaminants in several other wells.

Despite the confirmation its wells in the past have tested positive for PFOA and PFOS, the utility this week maintained the water remains safe for consumption…

In addition to ECUA’s wells, the chemicals have also been detected in other locations in the region. They have tested above the EPA’s current health advisory level in on-base monitoring wells at Florida Panhandle military installations, where foam containing the substances was used in drills.

The Defense Department listed 126 facilities with excess contaminants in a March report to Congress. A total of 25 monitoring wells at a trio of sites overseen by Naval Air Station Pensacola tested positive for the substances in excess of current safety guidelines.”

Read the full article by Joseph Baucum