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Are There Toxins in Your Drinking Water?

An analysis of water samples shows that more than 6 million Americans may be drinking water with excessively high levels of PFAS.

Your drinking water might be contaminated without your knowledge.

Harvard researchers have identified dangerous compounds in the PFAS class in the drinking water of 6 million Americans. These chemicals, including polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, have been used in clothing, nonstick cookware and food wrappers for six decades. Even those that are no longer being used in industrial processes persist in the environment and find their way into groundwater.

What Did the Chemists Find?

The scientists analyzed 36,000 water samples collected by the EPA between 2013 and 2015, looking for six different kinds of PFAS. This is not a comprehensive study of American drinking water, since many wells were not included.

High Levels of PFAS:

In 66 of the public water supplies in the study (each represented by a number of water samples), PFAS levels were at or above 70 parts per trillion. That is considered the safe upper limit for exposure.

In most cases, the drinking water is drawn from sources near military bases, industrial sites or wastewater treatment plants. These may be where the PFAS compounds came from when they got into the water. These agents have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, immune disorders, high cholesterol and hormone disruption.

Environmental Science & Technology Letters, online Aug 9, 2016

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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