Read the full article by David-Hammer (4WWL)
“NEW ORLEANS — Responding to rising concerns, 10 states have set limits for a group of potentially dangerous chemicals called PFAS in their drinking water.
But Louisiana is not one of them, and environmental law experts have reason to believe that New Orleans officials are not even checking to see if the chemicals are in the city’s drinking water system.
‘They have the ability to test for these compounds, these chemicals that we know have health impacts, and they’re not doing it,’ said Jeff Dye, a local attorney whose background is in environmental science.
PFAS stands for polyfluoroalkyl substances. It’s a group of hundreds of man-made chemicals used to make products for the last 80 years, most notably Teflon made by DuPont and Scotchguard made by 3M. PFAS are prevalent in fire-retardant and waterproof materials, in firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, carpets, popcorn packaging and tents.
They are called ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not break down in the environment or in the human body and they can accumulate over time. They were allowed to run off, unchecked, into the nation’s groundwater and waterways over the years — from the chemical plants where they were produced, from military bases where they were used to put out fires and from everyday uses in homes and businesses.
But things began to change in 2013, after a massive study connected high PFAS exposure to a higher risk of testicular, kidney, prostate and ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, compromised immune response and stunted fetal development.
The EPA took notice and ordered local drinking water systems to test for the six most prevalent types of PFAS between 2013 and 2015. Most of them, including the Sewerage & Water Board in New Orleans, reported undetectable levels of those six compounds.
In 2016, the EPA issued unenforceable health advisories warning that PFAS above 70 parts per trillion in drinking water is dangerous.
But as more studies are conducted and more data is released, additional and improved procedures have been developed to test for hundreds of additional kinds of PFAS.
That’s gotten a lot of attention in states like Michigan, New Jersey and New Hampshire, where they limit concentrations of some types of PFAS in drinking water to as low as 8 parts per trillion.
‘There’s no reason why Louisiana can’t address this like other states have already,’ said Chris Dalbom, assistant director of the Tulane Institute for Water Law and Policy…”