Read the full article by Liza Gross (The New York Times)

This is the second article in a three-part series by investigative reporter Liza Gross, exploring the most dangerous toxins found in the average American home. The stories track fertility, pregnancy and early childhood development. The first, on phthalates, can be found here.

Nikki Aldrich can’t talk about what happened in their bucolic riverside village without crying. ‘She lets me do the talking,’ said her mother, Loreen Hackett.

Hackett and her daughter’s family live in Hoosick Falls, New York, where residents learned in 2016 that for years — including while Aldrich was carrying her first two children — they’d been drinking water contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a toxic chemical that a local factory once used to make Teflon products.

When Hackett and her daughter’s family had their PFOA blood levels checked by the state, they were shocked by the results. Blood levels for her grandson, then 6, and granddaughter, who was 4, were both more than 50 times the national average of roughly 2 parts per billion for kids and adults. They now both suffer from illnesses that studies have linked to PFOA or similar chemicals, Hackett said.

PFOA is one of the most widely studied members of a family of more than 4,700 chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The chemicals are found in hundreds of consumer products, including stain- and water-resistant furniture, outdoor gear, cosmetics, dental floss and disposable food packaging.

Contaminated drinking water is a major source of exposure, along with carpets, tainted seafoodmicrowave popcorn and takeout foods served in grease-resistant containers.

Scientists think these widely used industrial chemicals may harm pregnant women and their developing babies by meddling with gene regulators and hormones that control two of the body’s most critical functions: metabolism and immunity…”