Five States With Highest PFAS Contamination

States with Highest PFAS Levels

A recent map has highlighted five states with the highest levels of contamination in their drinking water systems, attributed to PFAS—perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as “forever chemicals.”

An analysis has revealed that New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania have the most water systems exceeding proposed PFAS limits. Specifically, New Jersey tops the list with 556 affected systems, followed by Massachusetts (439), California (263), New Hampshire (202), and Pennsylvania (125).

Here is an interactive map showing PFAS contamination in the U.S.:

 

Sources and Spread of PFAS Contamination

Urban and Industrial Areas

David Andrews, EWG’s Deputy Director of Investigations and Senior Scientist, explained the contamination’s strong association with urban areas and industrial activities. He stated, “Urbanization and the use of industrial products contribute significantly to PFAS contamination. High levels often originate from firefighter training facilities and airports due to the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS.”

Industrial Manufacturing

Andrews added that industrial manufacturing facilities are significant contributors. “Direct releases into water and air, as well as landfilling of materials, have resulted in high contamination levels. Industries like electroplating and textile mills have used these chemicals extensively.”

State Responses to PFAS Contamination

California

The California State Water Resources Control Board has been proactive, setting non-regulatory compliance levels since 2019 and focusing on areas near known industrial sources. “We have already installed treatment systems ahead of the EPA’s maximum contaminant level,” a spokesperson said.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) set maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for PFAS in drinking water in January, ahead of the EPA’s federal limits. A spokesperson detailed, “We conducted numerous training sessions statewide on the new rule, training 650 individuals.”

New Hampshire

David G. Miller, Deputy Director of Water Treatment & Supply for Manchester, emphasized the impact of new regulations. “The sources of PFAS are numerous. In Portsmouth, high levels were found in groundwater wells near the former Pease Air Force base due to firefighting foam discharge. In Merrimack, contamination came from atmospheric discharge by St. Gobain Performance Plastics.”

Federal and State Regulations

In April, the Biden administration and the EPA set national limits on PFAS in drinking water, aiming to protect public health. These regulations give water companies five years to comply. Andrews noted that states with a history of PFAS issues will benefit from an early start, having identified and acted on contamination before the federal regulations.

Michigan’s Example

Michigan stands out for its proactive measures. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team highlighted the state’s comprehensive testing and established water standards for seven PFAS compounds. “Governor Whitmer’s commitment ensures clean drinking water for all Michiganders,” said a spokesperson.

Public Action and Recommendations

David Andrews urged residents to check local water test results. “Consider using a home water filter system if contamination is detected. It’s an effective way to reduce or eliminate PFAS from drinking water.”

The issue of PFAS contamination in drinking water is significant in several states, with urbanization and industrial activities being primary sources. States like California, Pennsylvania, and Michigan have taken proactive steps to address the issue, setting examples for other regions. As federal regulations come into effect, the focus will be on ensuring safe drinking water for all.

For households concerned about PFAS contamination, installing reverse osmosis filtration systems can be highly effective. These systems remove a wide range of contaminants, including PFAS, from drinking water. Whole-home water conditioners can further improve water quality by addressing hardness and other impurities. Investing in these technologies ensures access to clean and safe drinking water.

Source: Newsweek