The study was the first of its kind, testing both public and private wells for the chemicals. The only way to detect the is to sample water and run diagnostic testing.
PFAS are a diverse array of different chemicals that share a carbon-fluorine bond which makes them resistant to degradation. They also are very hydrophobic, which means they repel water and other liquids from sticking to anything they’re coating. The USGS tested for 32 specific types of PFAS chemicals out of thousands.
Researchers have noticed that the chemicals can accumulate in humans and animals and lead to specific health complications like negatively impacting the immune system. Research into the health impacts of PFAS is still new, and the chemicals are ubiquitous. They’re used in nonstick coating for cookware and food packaging and also have industrial uses.
Due to their stability, they accumulate in water, soil, and life forms, and their health impact is still poorly understood. The study found that almost half of all wells they tested were contaminated with at least one type of PFAS. Last March, Biden’s EPA authorized testing for PFAS in public wells, and they began the process of testing and studying how to reduce the forever chemicals in the nation’s water supply.
The study collected samples from 716 different wells throughout 2016-2021. The findings indicated that the worst contamination occurred near urban centers and industrial areas where they regularly use the chemicals. The most commonly detected chemicals were perfluorobutane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanoic acid, and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid, which were detected in 15% of the wells.
Study authors estimate that the odds of having clean water, without PFAS, in urban areas is roughly 25% whereas it’s 75% for rural homeowners. A previous study from 2022 showed that these chemicals correlated with certain types of cancers. The only way to know for certain is to test for them in your home water.
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