|PFAs contamination in the U.S. Blue dots are drinking-water sites, purple are military, and orange are others. Environmental Working Group map; click the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version.|
Nearly 42,000 locations in the U.S. may be sources of water pollution from long-lasting toxic chemicals called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAs, according to new research from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
PFAs are sometimes called "forever chemicals" because they build up in organisms and never break down in the environment. They are linked to birth defects, cancers, infertility and reduced immune responses, but most water systems lack the technology and funds to filter them out, and there are little or no legal requirements for them to do so.
The chemicals can be found in everyday items such as cosmetics and non-stick cookware. They're also present in much higher concentrations in the fire-fighting foam used for decades on military bases, ships and airports. That's why most of the contaminated water EWG found was near military bases or factories that manufacture products with PFAs.
Along with the study, EWG published an interactive map showing where it found water polluted with PFAs; click on it to see how your local water system fared.