Drinking water in 33 states contains toxic chemicals

The researchers studied six kinds of PFASs found in drinking water. | File photo
A recent study from the Colorado School of Mines shows that 33 of the United States contains unsafe levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are industrial chemicals connected to serious health problems.

The researchers studied six kinds of PFASs found in drinking water. They data included more than 36,000 samples from throughout the US. The US Environmental Protection Agency gathered the samples between 2013 and 2015.

“Poly- and perfluoroaklyl acids are highly fluorinated synthetic organic chemicals that do not occur in nature,” Mines civil and environmental engineering associate professor Chris Higgins said. “Their highly fluorinated tails repel both oil and water, which is why they are used in so many consumer products. These compounds are used as stain repellents, paper packing products, and in making polymers like Teflon.”

This is a serious concern for the overall health of Americans, as these chemicals cause major health problems.

“It is a complex topic, because these compounds stick around for a very long time in the environment and enter the environment in several ways,” Higgins said. “We are also exposed to them for a variety of sources. They are extremely difficult to remove from water. At Mines we are working on a variety of water treatment technologies to treat these compounds. A great deal of work remains to be done.”

The study was published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters on Aug. 9. It is titled “Detection of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances in U.S. Drinking Water Linked to Industrial Sites, Military Fire Training Areas, and Wastewater Treatment Plants.”

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