Nearly half of nation’s tap water contains PFAS, a new study finds. Americans living in urban areas are most at risk. - USA Today

Nearly half of the tap water in the United States is estimated to have at least one type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance, or PFAS, a national study from the U.S. Geological Survey shows.

The group of chemicals, commonly used in consumer products like nonstick cookware and linings of fast-food boxes, have been linked to human illnesses like cancer, low birth weight and thyroid disease. The agency claims it’s the first comprehensive study of its kind on unregulated private wells – giving average consumers information about the risks of PFAS when they grab a glass of water from their kitchen sink, said Kelly Smalling, the study’s lead author and research hydrologist.

The study shows PFAS were more frequently found in urban areas, especially in the “Great Plains, Great Lakes, Eastern Seaboard, and Central and Southern California.” PFAS were also commonly found in private wells in regions that are already known as PFA sources, Smalling said.

Compared with a 75% likelihood of PFAS being detected in water in urban areas, there is a 25% chance the chemicals will be found in water in rural areas, scientists from USGS estimate.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an effort to restrict and regulate PFAS in food and drinking water to improve public health. The group proposed a federal law that would require companies to disclose whether they use the chemicals in any of their products.

Experts [have raised concerns that regulating PFAS at a national level could cost the country billions.

Read the full story here

USA Today

Organizations: United States Geological Survey (USGS) Environmental Protection Agency 

People: Kelly Smalling 

Tags: PFAS Pollution Public Health Environmentalism Regulation 

Type: Headlines