There are nearly 42,000 potential sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the United States, according to a new study published in the American Water Works Association Water Science journal. Several studies conducted in recent years have shown that most parts of the United States are contaminated with PFAS.
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Earlier this year, another study conducted by Lancaster University found high levels of PFAS in melting Arctic ice. The results left more questions than answers where scientists were unable to tell the exact source of perpetual chemicals.
Related: Ice melting releases ‘forever chemicals’ in the Arctic Ocean
In the latest study, researchers found that everyone in the United States is likely to be exposed to PFAS. According to lead author and Environmental Working Group (EWG) senior researcher David Andrews, it is time for the EPA to begin regulating the use of PFAS. He notes that communities living downstream from industrial areas are most exposed to pollutants.
The new study by EWG researchers found that the primary sources of PFAS are landfills for solid waste, oil refineries, sewage treatment plants and electroplates. The researchers reviewed data from the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database.
“The results from states like Michigan show that there are a wide variety of sources of PFAS in surface water,” Andrews said in the EWG press release. “Many landfills and industrial sites release PFAS at detectable concentrations that may exceed state limits or PFAS health guidelines in water.”
Currently, this is no limit to PFAS contamination in water. According to the study, the EPA is currently working to establish rules to control pollution levels in rivers. Several states have set their own boundaries.
“For example, the state’s guidelines for exposure to PFOA have dropped by about three orders of magnitude from 7000 ng / L [nanograms per liter], set by Minnesota in 2002 at 8 ng / L, set by Michigan in 2020, ”the authors wrote.
Lead image via Pexels