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PFA's, A Highly Toxic Class of Chemicals, Has Been Found in 56% of U.S. Water Utilities

PFA's are a class of toxic chemicals developed in the 1940s that are linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, weakened childhood immunity and other health problems. Because they repel grease and water, they are used in a dizzying array of products including food packaging, nonstick cookware, clothing and furniture. They are also used widely as a fire retardant on military runways. The most common PFA’s are PFOS formerly used in DuPont’s Teflon and PFOA formerly used in 3M’s Scotchgard. 


Unfortunately PFA’s move quickly through the earth and into water, where they persist forever. 

Members of the military and their families share an outsize burden from exposure to PFAS contamination. Despite concerns voiced by both 3M and Navy scientists as early as the 1970s, the military has continued to require the use of PFAS-based firefighting foam for nearly 50 years. Last year, Maureen Sullivan, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of environmental policies and programs told a House oversight committee that there were 401 installations where there are known or suspected releases PFA chemicals into groundwater, but this total is just the tip of the iceberg.


An independent testing laboratory analyzed a third of the nationwide water samples, found that 56 percent of the water utilities it tested contained PFA chemicals at concentrations at or above 2.5 ppt. The safe level of exposure to PFAS chemicals is about 1 ppt. That means that up to 110 million Americans could have PFA in their tap water at unsafe levels.

By, Ryan Sinderbrand

Resources: https://www.akaction.org/wp-content/uploads/Report-Threats-to-Drinking-Water-and-Public-Health-in-Alaska-FINAL-web-version-9-24-19.pdf

https://www.ewg.org/research/report-110-million-americans-could-have-pfas-contaminated-drinking-water