While a lot of the media attention these days is focused on the negative impact lead is having on drinking water nationwide, it’s important to remember lead isn’t the only water contaminant posing a problem for Americans. While the lead problem is widespread and the health problems it can cause are severe, there are other dangerous contaminants threatening the water supply across states and communities. Chief among them is a set of man-made chemicals known as PFAS.
The Washington Post recently published this article calling attention to the growing PFAS contamination problem that most Americans aren’t even aware of—telling the story of families in Parchment, Michigan, who have had their water affected by these harmful (and all-to-common) substances. The article reports that Parchment declared a state of emergency when it was discovered that the water supply had PFAS levels “in excess of 1,500 parts per trillion” (with the contamination suspected to have come from a paper mill that closed years ago).
Here are some significant facts and stats about PFAS noted in the article…
- There are no current federal government regulations around PFAS
- The EPA recommends individuals limit their lifetime exposure to 70 parts per trillion
- An estimated 6 million Americans have drinking water testing above EPA standards according to Harvard researchers
- In Michigan, one of the few states actively looking for PFAS contamination, a state official is quoted as saying: “When we look for it, we tend to find it.”
In the wake of The Washington Post article, expect to hear more about the growing problem of PFAS drinking water contamination in the coming year.