Sam Cox / CC BY-NC 2.0

New research suggests that industrial chemicals in public drinking water have exceeded federal safety levels for 6 million Americans.

A study just released by two departments at Harvard University reported that unacceptable levels of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFASs)—linked to a host of ailments including cancer, obesity and hormone disruption—are circulating in the nation’s drinking water supply.

Here’s more from the research team’s findings, as reported in a news release from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:

“For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities, such as PFASs, were allowed to be used and released to the environment, and we now have to face the severe consequences,” said lead author Xindi Hu, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and Environmental Science and Engineering at SEAS. “In addition, the actual number of people exposed may be even higher than our study found, because government data for levels of these compounds in drinking water is lacking for almost a third of the U.S. population—about 100 million people.”

The study found that PFASs were detectable at the minimum reporting levels required by the EPA in 194 out of 4,864 water supplies in 33 states across the U.S. Drinking water from 13 states accounted for 75% of the detections, including, in order of frequency of detection, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

Read the full study, released Tuesday, here

— Posted by Donald Kaufman   

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