Read the full article by Sam Mauhay-Moore (SFGATE)

“The Center for Environmental Health recently confirmed that three Bay Area facilities have been discharging toxicants known as ‘forever chemicals’ into the region’s groundwater. 

Metal plating companies Electro-Coatings of California and Teikuro Corporation, along with a Recology center in Vacaville, were sent legal notices by CEH after they were discovered to use PFAS, a group of potentially harmful chemicals, in their day-to-day operations. These chemicals were directly released into designated sources of drinking water below three facilities and now exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits for PFAS by over a hundred times, according to a CEH press release.

Electro-Coatings of California operates out of an industrial portion of Southwest Berkeley. Teikuro Corporation is based in San Francisco but was found to be discharging PFAS from its facility in Hayward. 

Studies surrounding PFAS indicate that the chemicals may affect functions of the thyroid, liver, reproductive system and immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PFAS are known to move through soil and infect drinking water sources, and they do not break down in the environment, hence their nickname, ‘forever chemicals.’

Two types of PFAS — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) — were found to be used by the three facilities and are linked to the development of certain cancers and organ diseases, according to CEH. 

‘These two in particular are associated with the development of cancers and diseases in multiple organ systems, including thyroid, kidney disease, immune deficiencies, obesity, just a whole host of really negative health impacts from being exposed to even very, very low levels of these two chemicals,’ CEH Science Director Dr. Jimena Diaz Leiva told SFGATE. 

These discoveries come shortly after the EPA proposed changes to its Toxic Substances Control Act that would require water systems to monitor PFAS levels in drinking water, notify the public of these levels and work to lower them if they rise above a certain limit. 

‘That limit is almost essentially zero. It’s below the level of detection for a lot of analytical laboratories,’ Diaz Leiva said. 

PFAS are a particular concern when it comes to metal plating facilities, Diaz Leiva added. These facilities often use fume suppressants that are formulated with PFOS chemicals in order to reduce the emission of hexavalent chromium used in metal finishing. Diaz Leiva said that while these fume suppressants were banned by the EPA in 2016, the chemicals found in them never break down and still make their way into groundwater by means of the facilities that once used them. 

Diaz Leiva added that while the groundwater that these chemicals have been found in is considered a source of drinking water, the water likely coming from your tap isn’t a particularly big pathway of PFAS exposure, as municipal drinking water sources are tested for harmful toxins. 

‘Any groundwater is a potential source of drinking water, and it’s classified as such by the Water Board. But it’s important to note that this groundwater isn’t what is directly falling from someone’s tap,’ Diaz Leiva said.

Most of the groundwater in question is likely going to private businesses and agriculture, Diaz Leiva said.”…