Read the full article by Heather Osborne (Austin American-Statesman)

“With the Environmental Protection Agency sounding an alarm that a handful of human-made chemicals polluting drinking water across the nation are more toxic than once thought, Austin’s primary water supplier is gearing up for the first time in nearly a decade to test for some of the compounds locally.

Cancer. Liver damage. Infertility. Thyroid disease. These are just a few of the illnesses linked to PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are known informally as ‘forever chemicals’ because they can take thousands of years to break down in the environment and can last in humans for a lifetime.

A study by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that PFAS may be in the bloodstreams of 97% of Americans. Last month, the EPA released a new health advisory for PFAS that lowered the threshold for the level of exposure where illness is not expected to occur.

Because that threshold dropped from the previous 2016 health advisory, many scientists are concluding that the EPA now deems PFAS more toxic than known just years ago.

‘We generally say that PFAS are in everyone,’ said Katie Pelch, a scientist for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council and an expert on PFAS contamination. ‘This is really concerning to scientists considering that we know that many of the PFAS found in people are linked to health effects.

Manufacturers for about eight decades have used PFAS, a group of more than 12,000 chemicals that share similar properties, because of their ability to resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water. Many of the products that contain PFAS can be found inside your home, including waterproof cosmetics, sweat-resistant clothing, stain-resistant furniture and non-stick cookware.

The effect of these lab-created substances are worldwide, with the CDC now studying how PFAS could have worsened coronavirus symptoms for some groups.

‘The big concern is that these chemicals can get into the groundwater or surface water, causing local contamination of drinking water sources,’ Pelch said. ‘Manufacturers aren’t always required to disclose where PFAS are used, so we talk a lot about the places where we do know they exist.'” …