A new study from the American Institute of Geological Studies reveals that nearly half of the tap water in the United States is contaminated with chemicals known as “eternal pollutants”.
However, the number of people drinking contaminated water could be even higher than the study indicated, because researchers were unable to test for all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
PFAS are pollutants that decay slowly and can cause serious health problems.
Exposure to PFAS is linked to problems such as cancer, obesity, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, decreased fertility and liver damage, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA).
In June 2022, based on the latest science, the EPA issued health advisories stating that the chemicals are far more dangerous to human health than scientists originally thought.
There are more than 12,000 types of PFAS in total, according to the National Institutes of Health, but only 32 of the compounds can be detected by laboratory tests developed by the Institute of Geological Studies.
Previously, there was little information on the exact amount of PFAS chemicals in tap water, said the authors of the research, published in the journal ‘Environmental International’.
Scientists took running water samples from 716 locations between 2016 and 2021.
Based on their findings, they estimate that at least one PFAS chemical would be detected in 45% of tap water in the United States.
Most of the contamination came from water sources near urban areas and in areas that generate PFAS, such as factories that use the chemicals in their products or sites where waste was collected.
The highest concentrations of PFAS in drinking water were found in the Great Plains, Great Lakes, East Coast, and central and southern California, according to the study.