EPA Found More NC Water Systems Contain PFAS

Newly-released data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals that 20 more drinking water systems in North Carolina are contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals, commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” These substances persist in the environment and accumulate in human blood and organs, raising significant health concerns.

The Scope of Contamination

Across the United States, 328 new locations have been identified with PFAS contamination. In North Carolina, twenty additional water systems have tested positive for these toxic substances. One of the most concerning cases is in Robeson County, where the water system, serving over 64,000 residents, was found to contain nine different PFAS chemicals, with concentrations exceeding 149 parts per trillion. GenX, a notorious PFAS chemical produced at Chemours’ Fayetteville Works plant, was among those detected.

Jared Hayes, a senior policy analyst with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), emphasized the severity of the situation: “No one should be drinking that much PFAS. The EPA recommends exposure levels for several types of PFAS at less than one part per trillion, yet people in these areas are consuming water with PFAS levels hundreds of times higher.”

Mapping the Contamination

The EWG has created an interactive map using EPA data to illustrate PFAS detection across the country. In North Carolina, the map reveals numerous contaminated sites in Durham, Pittsboro, Fuquay-Varina, Asheboro, and several counties, including Orange, Johnston, and Nash. Most of these sites are contaminated with PFOA, a PFAS chemical once used in non-stick cookware production. Animal studies have linked PFOA to liver damage and adverse effects on growth, development, and reproduction.

Health Impacts of PFAS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reviewed the health impacts associated with PFAS exposure. Their findings highlight an array of serious health issues, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease, and reduced vaccine response in children. “This should be taken seriously,” Hayes insisted, underscoring the urgency of addressing the contamination.

Recommendations and Policy Implications

Hayes advises residents in affected areas to use water filters to mitigate health risks. He also calls for robust legislative action to halt ongoing PFAS pollution. “The next step is policy to make sure that we’re not being continually exposed to PFAS,” Hayes stated. He advocates for stringent limits on PFAS discharges into waterways and groundwater, and the establishment of legal limits for PFAS in drinking water.

Regulatory Developments

The EPA’s Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) has revealed that approximately 26 million Americans have at least one type of PFAS in their drinking water. Currently, the EPA provides only health advisories for PFAS levels, but has pledged to finalize enforceable PFAS drinking water standards by the end of the year. Once established, utilities will likely have three to five years to comply with these new standards. This will mark the first significant update to legal limits for drinking water contaminants in nearly two decades.

Filtration Solutions

To address PFAS contamination, residents should consider reverse osmosis filtration systems and whole home water conditioners. Reverse osmosis systems effectively remove a wide range of contaminants, including PFAS, by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane while whole home water conditioners can also improve water quality by reducing contaminants and protecting household plumbing. These technologies have an immediate impact on the health of water consumers, and can keep PFAS and other contaminates at bay. Legal limits for contaminants in tap water haven’t been updated in almost two decades. So why not protect your home, health and family today?

Source: WRAL News