Drinking water supplies for more than six million Americans contain unsafe levels of industrial chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems, a U.S. study suggests.
The chemicals—known as PFASs (for polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances)—are used in products ranging from food wrappers to clothing to nonstick cookware to fire-fighting foams. They have been linked with an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, hormone disruption, high cholesterol, and obesity.
“PFASs are a group of persistent manmade chemicals that have been in use since 60 years ago,” said lead study author Xindi Hu, a public health and engineering researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Once these chemicals get into the water, they’re hard to get out, Hu added by email.
“Most current wastewater treatment processes do not effectively remove PFASs,” Hu said.
The problem may be much more widespread than the current study findings suggest because researchers lacked data on drinking water from smaller public water systems and private wells that serve about one-third of the U.S. population—about 100 million people, Hu noted.| | | Next → | Single Page