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Alert! US Drinking Water Contains Unsafe Levels of Toxic Chemicals

Aug 13, 2016 05:16 AM EDT
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There's a growing concern in the quality of drinking water in the U.S. as a new study reveals that the water Americans consume every day contains industrial chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems.

According to the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has found out that the amount of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) present in the U.S. public drinking water has gone beyond what the federal law recommends.

This alarming discovery will affect over six million Americans, who are exposed to these chemicals every day.

But how harmful are these chemicals, really? To put into perspective, the study notes that poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) contamination in the U.S. drinking water could lead to developmental, immune, metabolic, and endocrine problems.

"For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities, such as PFASs, were allowed to be used and released to the environment, and we now have to face the severe consequences," Xindi Hu, lead author of the study, told Science Daily.

To know the concentration of PFASs in the U.S. public drinking water, the researchers analyzed 36,000 water samples around the country collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between 2014 and 2015.

Results show that 66 of public water supplies, which six million people have access to, contained a PFASs concentration that's above the EPA safety limit. The highest PFASs concentration was detected in watersheds located near military bases, wastewater treatment plants and military bases.

What's more alarming is that the study's estimate of the number of affected people may be higher. Hu said that government data on the chemical levels of water is lacking for about a third of the U.S. population, which may result in a higher number than what the study claims.

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