A groundbreaking investigation revealed alarming levels of arsenic, lead, and toxic chemicals in US tap water

by Megan Ridshaw

Tuesday, Watchman It released the results of a nine-month investigation conducted jointly with Consumer Reports (CR) that showed alarming levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and PFAS plastic chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl materials) in drinking water samples across the United States.

According to the GuardianMillions of people face Serious water quality problems In the United States, due to pollution, deteriorating infrastructure, and inadequate treatment in waterworks.

As part of the study, CR and Guardian selected 120 volunteers to provide tap water samples which were then tested for heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, pollutants, and PFAS The range of compounds found in hundreds of associated household products Learning delays in children, cancer and other health problems.

Samples came from water systems serving more than 19 million people.

Here are four key findings from this report:

  • A total of 118 of the 120 samples analyzed had related levels of PFAS, arsenic, or lead above the safety thresholds set by CR scientists and other health experts.
  • Nearly every sample contained measurable levels of PFAS and more than 35% of samples contained potentially toxic “forever chemicals”, at levels above the maximum safety threshold for CR.
  • About 8% of samples contained arsenic at levels above the maximum recommended CR.
  • One sample of water tested in New Britain, Connecticut, had a lead concentration of 31.2 parts per million – more than twice the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) working level of 15 parts per million, and 25 ppb higher than a report. Water quality sent to people using water.

in a Response to the resultsEnvironmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Andrea Drinkard said that 93% of residents provided by community water systems have access to water that meets “all health standards at all times” and that the agency has standardized over 90 pollutants. Includes arsenic and lead but not PFAS.

However, according to Analysis of more than 140,000 public water networks Millions of people in the United States drink water that does not meet federal health standards, including limits for dangerous pollutants, reported by The Guardian in February.

Forever Chemicals (PFAS) in tap water

CR’s The results showed PFAS was tested in 117 samples from 120 samples, from sites across the country. The CR samples had PFAS levels higher than the Federal advisory level of 70 parts per thousand, with the highest amount at 80.2 points.

PFAS chemicals have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries in the United States since the 1940’s. According to the Environmental Protection Agency. It can be found in food packaging, commercial household products, stain and water resistant fabrics, non-stick cooking utensils, polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, fire fighting foams, oils and plastics industries, and contaminated drinking water.

PFAS Chemicals Seep into the water From factories, landfills, and other sources. They are often called ‘Chemicals are forever“Because it can build up in the body and not be dissolved easily in the environment.

An investigation into the health effects of PFAS involving Research 69,000 people revealed a “potential link” between exposure to the chemical PFAS and six health problems: high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and testicular and kidney cancer. Research has also linked PFAS to Learning delay In children.

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as such Reported by cannonsIn fact, science suggests links between exposure to PFAS and a host of health consequences, including potential. Increased risk From cancerAnd Thyroid diseaseAnd High in fatAnd Liver damageAnd Kidney diseaseAnd Babies of low birth weightAnd ImmunosuppressionAnd Ulcerative colitis And Pregnancy and high blood pressure induced.

At least 2,337 communities in 49 states have drinking water It is known to be contaminated with PFAS, According to the January analysis by Environmental Working Group, Advocacy organization.

despite of Evidence of widespread pollution And health risks, the EPA has not set an enforceable legal limit for PFAS in drinking water. It set only voluntary limits, which apply to only two chemicals in perpetuity – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) – at 70 parts per trillion combined.

Harvard University Environmental Health Professor Philip Grandjin suggested that the limitation should be only one part of PFOS and PFOS, citing His 2013 research Published in Environmental Health.

Most Municipalities It doesn’t test PFAS, and when it does, it’s only on a small scale.

Poisonous arsenic in tap water

Nearly every sample tested for a CR level contained measurable levels of arsenic, a common groundwater contaminant, including 10 samples with levels between 3 and 10. Parts per billion, According to the Guardian.

CR scientists and environmental advocacy groups such as Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said the limit should be 3 parts per billion or less, but the Environmental Protection Agency allows for arsenic in drinking water up to 10 ppb to balance water system operators’ costs against reducing health risks.

Research suggests that exposure to low levels of arsenic can pose long-term health risks. A 2014 study in Environmental health It was found that arsenic at 5 ppm or more was associated with lower IQ in children.

as such I mentioned the cannons In March, the arsenic was “graded” number one It is among the substances in the environment that pose the greatest potential threat to human health, “according to A. Congressional report Which resulted from the investigation of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic have found In baby food.

According to the report: “exposure to Toxic heavy metals It leads to a permanent decrease in IQ, decreased economic productivity in the future, and an increased risk of future criminal and anti-social behavior in children. Toxic heavy metals endanger infants’ neurodevelopment and long-term brain function.

A dangerous level of lead in tap water

Fears of lead in drinking water made national headlines for the first time during the Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan In 2015. Scientists and the Environmental Protection Agency They agreed There is no safe level of exposure to lead, although the EPA action level for lead is set at 15 ppb.

While the annual New Britain Water Quality Report indicated to clients that its average lead level was 6 parts per billion, one sample tested by CR showed lead concentrations of 31.2 parts per million, more than double the EPA action level of 15 Parts per billion.

Lead usually makes its way into drinking water through lead pipes that lead to people’s homes or into household plumbing. An estimated 3 to 6 million homes and businesses in the United States still obtain water through old lead lines. According to estimates by the Environmental Protection AgencyAnd an unknown number of homes have heavy metal plumbing fixtures.

It is well established that inorganic arsenic and lead present in tap water are present Neural It can lead to Low IQ As well as negative neurodevelopmental outcomes, such as Autism spectrum disorder And Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Two conditions Done Climbs steadily For Several decadesAnd I mentioned the cannons.

According to th Toxic Substances and Disease RegistryLead can also cause reproductive problems, low bone density, poor kidney function, cognitive decline, and negatively affect every organ system in the body. High levels of exposure can lead to encephalopathy or death.

The American Academy of Pediatrics No “safe threshold or level of lead in the blood” has been established.

Next steps – solve the problem

Although people can search for cleaner drinking water by using filters and home filtration systems that remove dangerous contaminants, CR says the solution to the problem should not be up to consumers.

Natural Resources Defense Council call The Biden administration and Congress to enact legislation requiring the rapid removal and replacement of lead lines and immediate steps to address PFAS contamination in drinking water.

Megan Ridshaw is a freelance reporter for The Defender. She has a background in political science, a law degree and extensive training in natural health.

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