For decades, people have now been obsessed with the bottled vs. tap water debate. Some claim bottles are worse for the environment than tap and that it’s not much (if any) cleaner than your local tap. They would cite the examples of chemicals leeching into bottled water and try to proclaim why tap water was better and just how good their local water treatment plant was.
Now it turns out that tap water has been a 50-50 gamble to drinkers for years, and those who drink contaminated water are at a greater risk than previously imagined.
A new study from the US Geological Survey discovered that nearly half of the US drinking water is contaminated with chemicals that are extremely toxic to human life. With them unable to accurately test for all known per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS, in the samples, they are concerned that the danger could be more widespread than first imagined.
PFAS are synthetic chemicals that tend to linger both in nature and in the human body. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, obesity, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, fertility problems, and hormone suppression, among other risks, per the EPA. Back in June 2022, the EPA began issuing health advisories that these chemicals are significantly more dangerous than previously reported, even in smaller doses too.
While over 12,000 variations of PFAS are known to exist, the US Geological Survey has only devised testing for 32 of them.
The testing for the latest study was conducted at taps in 716 locations- 269 were private wells, and 447 were public sources. Samples were pulled between 2016 and 2021. From those findings, they hypothesized 45% of all taps would test positive for PFAS levels. Unsurprisingly, the highest concentrations of PFAS occurrences were in urban areas, predominantly in spots that manufacture, dispose of, or treat those chemicals.
The hardest hit areas included the Great Plains, the Great Lakes, the Eastern Seaboard, and Central/Southern California. Given their histories of production and transportation of goods that extensively use PFAS chemicals, this isn’t surprising in the least.
Then again, this is exactly what the Democrats want.
The inclusion of PFAS chemicals in carpet and stain-resistant clothing have put these chemicals in a prime location in low- and middle-income households. The kids tend to roll across these carpets and eat snacks off them. The clothing many infants are covered in is stain-resistant to keep parents from having to replace them before the kids outgrow them. While much like carpet, this is a convenience, the long-term risks are too great.
As a 2019 study revealed, PFAS chemicals are likely to be found in 98% of the US population, so the 45% number that this study shows seems to be low, but officials caution that many plants are working to eliminate the chemicals from their water. Additionally, numerous testing sites could have had a filtration system for the water to be pushed through, thus eliminating the PFAS levels and giving a safer result than that would have had in years past.
With water utility companies sharing their test results and what they are doing to fix the problem with the public, people can keep track of what steps they should be taking at home. Carbon filters are reported to help, but the frequent changes can make them cumbersome. While reverse osmosis filtering is another great treatment system, but prohibitively expensive.
Now the EPA is proposing limits for six PFAS chemicals, with their target number significantly lower than testing procedures can currently test for. If approved this could change water sourcing for numerous municipalities and increase the level of treatment being given to your drinking water.
For now, drink that bottled water, at least you know where you purchased it.