A new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters has some sobering facts. Numerous areas in the United States are pumping drinking water through their pipes that is contaminated with unsafe levels of industrial chemicals, which could have a drastic effect on health.
Able to contribute to increases in cancer, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and disruptions in the immune systems of children, the presence of these chemicals could prove to be heavy news.
The troublemakers are known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs.
Experts are saying that the problem with these particular chemicals is that, unlike other substances that can be excreted by the body within hours of being ingested, these can take a total of about 3 ½ years to clear your system.
The study is stating that 16.5 million Americans currently have one of six types of PFASs in their drinking water, and that the chemicals are at or above the recommended maximum limit.
Looking specifically at perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid, two types of PSFASs, a whopping 66 public water supplies serving drinking water to 6 million Americans were found to have levels of these PFSASs at or above the recommended safety limit of 70 parts per trillion.
Who is the hardest hit? Water sources in Newark, Delaware, and Warminster, Pennsylvania, in particular had high concentration levels of the contaminants, although higher-than-recommended chemical concentrations were found to fall across 33 states, in total.
Where are the contaminants coming from? Xindi Hu, lead author of the new study and a doctoral student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told CNN.com that PFASs are found in our food packaging, such as pizza boxes and popcorn bags, clothing, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam.
Hu points out that they are actually very useful compounds. And that may be the trouble- we are relying on them too much. They are so ubiquitous that they are floating around in our environment and getting into our drinking water, causing potential havoc.
While the long term effects of having too many of these compounds in your body is not entirely known, several large companies are said to have stopped using them, (which is the good news) for fear they may be detrimental to our health.
If you are concerned that your water may be at risk, consider having it tested.
And in order to reduce the amount of PFASs in your living environment, while there is no guaranteed method, cooking with caste iron pans, or other cookware that is not non-stick may help to avoid ingesting the chemicals.
Wearing clothing made of natural fibers and cooking with food that requires less packaging could also help to limit your intake.
For those who are looking for an alternative water source, bear in mind that bottled water is not currently tested in the U.S for the presence of PFCs or PFASs.
The bottom line? The only way to truly rid our living environments of unsafe levels of PFASs seems to be to contact your local government and put pressure on industries to reduce their use of these chemicals. Every voice counts.
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