Since 2015, our PFAS Contamination Site Tracker has been a key resource for communities and researchers concerned about PFAS pollution and water contamination. When we began this project, there were only a few dozen contamination sites to keep track of, but today there are hundreds of them, with more constantly being discovered. Additionally, our own research objectives and partnerships have shifted, and our small research group no longer has the capacity to present the data as we historically have been. Going forward, we will continue to maintain the Tracker database, but it will look slightly different.
As you may know, after a fruitful few years of collaboration with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on an interactive map of PFAS contamination, our and EWG’s research objectives began to part ways, and that collaboration is no longer active. We are now in the process of integrating our tracker data with Silent Spring Institute’s PFAS Exchange map, which focuses more on community groups and grassroots activism. EWG will continue to maintain their maps focused on contaminated public water systems, military point-sources, and informing national and state-level legislation. Both of these efforts are important to the ultimate goal of PFAS-free bodies, water systems, and ecosystems, but they are also different in scope.
Due to the constant influx of new PFAS water testing data – often in locations without a clear known source of contamination – our team has struggled to keep up with documenting the other, more qualitative data surrounding PFAS contamination sites, such as community and government response. This data is not only crucial to our research on the social movement forming around PFAS contamination, but also to communities seeking to connect, organize, and lobby for remediation and regulation. Further, it no longer makes sense for us to duplicate EWG’s effort of systematically tracking the most up-to-date PFAS levels found in public water systems across the country.
So, in order to better capture the scope of the social movement surrounding PFAS contamination, and contribute to a more holistic body of data being gathered by various research organizations, we will be making some changes to our PFAS Contamination Site Tracker.
First, we will no longer update the PFAS_Testing_Results columns of the tracker with the most recent testing results for each site, and will instead provide links to websites where those results can be found. We will, however, continue to display the historical testing results that are already available in our Tracker spreadsheet, and do our best to continue to archive all available site data in our “site-specific references” Google Drive folders, where you can find links to testing results, relevant government websites, and news coverage. The reference folders for each site are linked in the right-most columns of the tracker spreadsheet.
Second, some states have comprehensive testing data or detailed descriptions of PFAS contamination, such as Michigan’s comprehensive government website (MPART) which documents the full history of every known PFAS investigation site in the state. For these locations, rather than duplicating the information that is easily available elsewhere, we will provide links to the relevant web-pages in the Regulation_and_Governmental_Response column of our spreadsheet. This is so that we have the capacity to investigate and document governmental response at sites and states with less comprehensive information available in a single, easy-to-find location.
Third, in the “Contaminated Water Systems” tab of the spreadsheet, we will provide the name, location, and links to contamination information rather than an individualized profile of each water system.
We will likely continue to alter the structure of the PFAS Contamination Site Tracker as our internal capacity and research goals change, and are open to suggestions and feedback from it’s regular users.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org