|Database of contaminated water systems; click the image to enlarge it or click here to view the interactive version.|
(Map by Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University)
Monday, May 06, 2019
More than 19 million in U.S., especially near military bases, have dangerous chemicals in drinking water; see local data
"More than 610 drinking water sources in 43 states contain potentially unsafe levels of chemical compounds that have been linked to birth defects, cancers, infertility, and reduced immune responses in children, according to a new database compiled by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University," Tara Copp reports for McClatchy Newspapers. "Using Pentagon data released last year and recently obtained public water utility reports, the researchers now estimate that more than 19 million people are exposed to water contaminated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAs."
PFAs are found in things like non-stick cookware and fast-food wrappers, but are in much higher concentration in the fire-fighting foam used for decades on military bases, ships and airports. Accordingly, water sources near military bases tend to have the highest concentrations of PFAs, "much higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2016 recommendation of a maximum exposure level of 70 parts per trillion," Copp reports. The Pentagon provided filters or alternate supplies of drinking water where PFA levels near military bases were higher than 70 ppt.
EWG argues that exposure levels of even one part per trillion could be harmful, and notes that there is no legal requirement to keep testing for PFAs. "A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation in late April that would require the EPA to set an enforceable standard, known as a minimum contaminant level, for PFAS within the next two years," Copp reports.