CHEMICALS IN U.S. DRINKING WATER

Chemicals In U.S Drinking Water

CHEMICALS IN U.S. DRINKING WATER

It seems as though it is getting harder and harder to keep healthy and keep our immune system in great working shape. As we all know, it is very important to drink plenty of water daily. Water is the greatest substance that keeps the human body alive other than the air we breathe.

Some toxic chemicals have been discovered that are at unsafe levels in our drinking water that more than 6 millions of Americans are drinking. These chemicals are associated with cancer and other health issues.

A team of researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard John S. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences found levels of an industrial class of chemical that exceed federally recommended safety levels. The chemicals are polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Chemicals with unknown toxicities such as the PFASs have been allowed to be used and released to the environment for many years. The severe consequences now have to be faced, according to lead author Xindi Hu, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and Environmental Science and Engineering at SEAS.

The actual exposure may be even higher than their study found because the government data for levels of these compounds in our drinking water is lacking for almost 1/3 of the U.S. population, which equates to about 100 million people.

These are a class of man-made chemicals that remain in the body for long periods of time. PFASs are used to make commercial products more stain-resistant, waterproof and nonstick, and range from food wrappers to clothing and pots and pans. These chemicals do not break down when exposed to air, water or sunlight and people can be exposed after these chemicals have been manufactured for months or years, or even from production facilities thousands of miles away. The accumulation of PSASs that stay in the body for long periods of time can lead to adverse health effects. There are even some studies out there that link these to reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, immunological effects such as tumors, changes in cholesterol levels, low birth weight, liver tissue damage, obesity and development of testicular, pancreatic and liver cancers.

They used data from more than 36,000 water samples collected by the U.S. Environmental Agency from 2013-2015 in nationwide drinking water and observed concentrations of six types of PFASs. They are now looking at industrial sites such as military fire training sites and civilian airports where fire-fighting foam is used containing PFASs, and wastewater treatment plants. The PFASs are discharged by standard treatment methods because the plants are unable to remove PFASs from wastewater. This allows for contamination of groundwater as well as any sludge that the plants generate and is often used as fertilizer.

The highest PFASs concentrations have been observed in Warminster and Newark. The PFASs were detectable at the minimum reporting levels required by the EPA in 194 out of 4,864 water supplies in 33 states across the U.S. About 75% of the detections were from drinking water from 13 states. These states were California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois. They also found that 66 public water supplies that service 6 million people had at least one sample that measured at or above the EPA safety limit of 70 ng/L for two types of PFASs.

Now is probably the time to check into getting a reverse osmosis or other proven filter system for our drinking and cooking supply. I personally wouldn’t be without the reverse osmosis at my kitchen sink. I wouldn’t even think of drinking or using regular tap water in my cooking.

Dr Fredda Branyon

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