New study claims 43 states expose millions to dangerous chemical in drinking water
A new report by the non-profit Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University finds people in nearly every state in the country are exposed to unhealthy drinking water. According to the researchers, 43 states have locations, including drinking water sites, contaminated with PFAS chemicals. The CDC says these chemicals have been linked to health issues that include birth defects, cancers and infertility.
The study compiled information taken from Pentagon data and water utility reports. It shows an estimated 19 million people are exposed to contaminated water. Researchers found at least 610 contaminated locations ranging from public water systems and military bases to civilian airports, industrial plants, dumps and firefighter training sites.
"This should be frightening to all Americans in many ways," David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, told CBSN's Anne-Marie Green. "These chemicals... don't break down in our body and they don't break down in our environment and they actually stick to our blood. So levels tend to increase over time."
The Environmental Working Group said in a statement that its interactive map is the most comprehensive resource available to track contamination with a class of chemicals known as PFAS in the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFASs are used in a broad range of consumer goods, such as cleaners, textiles, leather, paper and paints, firefighting foams, and wire insulation.
"These chemicals can impact a lot of different health systems, cause numerous health problems, everything from testicular and kidney cancer, heart to the liver, heart to the thyroid," Andrews said, adding that the chemicals can also impact childhood development, low birth weight and immune system health.