Fourth highest level of toxic PFAS chemicals found in Alabama’s drinking water

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On May 19, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a health advisory that eight Alabama water systems contained two man-made chemicals that have been linked with cancer and other health problems when ingested for long periods of time.

Now, only three months later, a new Harvard University study has found Alabama has the fourth-highest concentration of these toxic chemicals in its water supply, behind only California, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

PFAs Alabama_Aug 2016

U.S. water supplies where PFASs were detected. [Photo Credit: Environmental Science and Technology Letters]

The poisonous chemicals, polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkly, also known as PFASs, exceed federally recommended safety levels in public drinking-water supplies.

According to the study, chemicals have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, high cholesterol, obesity and other health problems.

“These compounds are potent immunotoxicants in children and recent work suggests drinking-water safety levels should be much lower than the provisional guidelines established by EPA,” said Elsie Sunderland, senior author of the study and associate professor at both the Harvard Chan School and SEAS.

In Alabama, at least 100,000 people have been affected by the presence of PFAS-contaminated water.

“For the last three years, the levels of PFOS, PFOA and emerging contaminants in surface water have been monitored in all drinking water systems serving more than 10,000 people and in selected systems serving fewer people,” said the Alabama Department of Public Health following the May advisory. “ADPH will continue to review all studies and recommendations related to ingestion of these chemicals through public water supplies. ADEM is working with the named water systems to collect additional monitoring data where appropriate and to identify methods to reduce the water concentration of PFCs to a level below the final health advisory recommendation.”
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