These days, you’re going to be seeing a lot of headlines about how toxic chemicals are contaminating our drinking water – Pharmaceuticals like PFAS. Even if you stay out of the public sphere and stay informed through your own research, it’s still difficult to know what it means, who’s been affected, and what you should do.
What Is PFAS?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a group of manmade chemicals that have been extensively used in the manufacturing of various products since the 1970s. Due to their widespread use, PFAS contamination has become a major global problem.
Exposure to PFAS has been related to a wide range of health issues, such as cancer, issues with children’s development, and a higher incidence of miscarriage. PFAS in drinking water is one of the ways these chemicals can get into people’s systems.
PFAS can be found in a variety of different products and has been detected in nearly all water samples tested around the world. The highest concentrations of PFAS are typically found near military and industrial sites where these chemicals were commonly used.
Protecting yourself from PFAS exposure begins by learning about them and their effects. Read on for more information about how PFAS are harmful to your health, how you can protect yourself from them, and what you can do if you’re concerned your water may be contaminated.
The Drinking Water Contamination Problem
PFAS are chemicals that have been used in many products, including firefighting foams, and industrial materials. PFAS are persistent in the environment and can be stored in groundwater, soil, and other surfaces.
When these chemicals break down, they can release harmful levels of PFAS into the air, water, and food. PFAS have been found in drinking water across the United States and Canada. PFAS has also been detected in people’s blood and urine.
There is no safe level of exposure to PFAS. Studies have shown that even small exposures to these chemicals can lead to health problems. Exposure to high levels of PFAS may increase the risk of developing cancer or other serious health conditions.
The State of California has started testing for PFAS in public water systems statewide. Your state or municipality may also test for PFAS, so it’s important to know if your drinking water is affected. If you are exposed to high levels of PFAS, you should visit a doctor for medical advice.
How are PFAs Released Into the Environment?
PFASs are a group of chemicals that have been used in industrial and commercial products for decades. They can be found in clothing, furniture, flooring, food packaging and other products. PFASs are often released into the environment when these products are disposed of or when they are contaminated by other substances.
PFASs can bioaccumulate in the environment and accumulate in animal tissues. They can also be released into the environment when these animals eat contaminated food. Once in the environment, PFASs can accumulate in groundwater and soil.
There is currently no safe level of exposure to PFASs. The compounds have been linked to numerous health effects, including cancer, birth defects, and epigenetic changes (changes that affect gene expression). There is still some uncertainty surrounding the health risks associated with PFASs, which is why it is important for people to know about their potential effects.
Are They in Your Drinking Water?
There are several types of PFASs that can be found in drinking water. They include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS). PFOA and PFOS are the most concerning because they can accumulate in the body over time and have been linked to health problems, such as cancer.
Some people who live near military bases where PFASs have been used know about the contamination and have been advised to avoid drinking water from their homes because of it. However, many people don’t know about the contamination or its implications. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 70% of Americans don’t know that PFASs are in their drinking water. The EPA has also estimated that 80% of Americans do not take steps to protect themselves from PFAS exposure.
Here are some things you need to know about PFAS contamination in drinking water:
1) There is evidence that exposure to PFASs can lead to health problems, including cancer.
2) PFOA and PFOS are two of the most concerning PFASs because they can accumulate in the body over time and have been linked to health problems, such as cancer.
3) You may be exposed to these chemicals if you live near a military base where they have been
Tips on How to Find Out IF You Have PFAS in Your Water
If you have drinking water that has levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) above health guidelines, there are a few things you can do to help find out for sure.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set two health advisory levels for PFAS. Levels below these guidelines don’t present a hazard to human health, but if levels are found to be above these levels, they may present an environmental hazard. To get your drinking water tested for PFAS, follow these steps:
- Request information from your local water utility.
- Contact a lab that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Have your testing results reviewed by a professional.
To learn more about PFAS and how they may affect human health, visit the EPA website or read our blog post on the subject: Things You Need To Know About PFAS Contamination In Drinking Water
Necessary Evacuations and Non-Necessary Evacuations
Some people may think that going through a non-essential evacuation is less important than others. However, evacuating just because there is a potential for contamination is not always the best decision. Here are 5 things you need to know about PFAS contamination and evacuations:
- The levels of PFAS found in water are still relatively low.
- Just because there is a potential for contamination does not mean that an evacuation is necessary. You should always consult with your local officials before making any decisions.
- There’s no set measure for how safe the water is to drink, so it’s up to each individual to decide whether they feel comfortable drinking it or not.
- If you choose to evacuate, make sure you have a plan in place and know where you’re going to go. Have supplies like food, water, and shelter on hand in case things turn bad during your evacuation journey.
- Continuing to drink contaminated water could lead to health concerns down the road, so it’s important to act fast if you notice any signs of contamination in your drinking water.