Study: ‘Forever Chemicals” likely found in water from many MN faucets

MINNESOTA – A new study shows that there’s a high chance that “forever chemicals”, which have been linked with cancer and other health issues, will be present in the water flowing from Minnesota taps.

According to a study released by the U.S. Geological Survey on Wednesday, the synthetic compounds collectively known as PFAS contaminate drinking water in varying degrees in both large and small cities — and in public and private systems. The researchers estimated, based on the data that at least one PFAS form could be detected in 45 percent of all tap water samples across the country.

Researchers described the study, as the first national effort to test for PFAS contamination in public and private water sources. The study builds on prior scientific findings that these chemicals are widely distributed, appearing in consumer products such as nonstick pans and food packaging, and even water-resistant clothing. They also make their way into public water supplies.

Researchers focused on 716 sites where ever chemicals were detected between 2016 and 2021. Of these, 447 relied on public water supplies while 269 used private wells. The samples were collected mainly from private residences, but also in a few businesses and schools. Samples were collected from national parks and residential areas without PFAS contamination, as well as urban centers and waste sites that are known to produce PFAS.

In Minnesota, drinking water systems were found to contain levels of forever chemicals above the proposed limits in Bemidji and Oakdale. St. Croix Montessori, Chandler Exhibits, Inc., Bergen’s Greenhouse, Saint Paul Park, Cottage Grove, Bailey Nursery, 3M Cottage Grove, Camp Galilee, Hastings, and Hastings.

Researchers stressed that they were not the only U.S. locations to have PFAS. Kelly Smalling told The Associated Press that although the majority of taps were only sampled once, those three samples taken multiple times in a period of three months had consistent results.

Scientists have tested for 32 PFAS substances, the majority of which can be detected using available methods. Smalling says that thousands of other compounds are thought to exist, but cannot be detected with the current technology.

Most of the exposures occurred in urban areas, especially in Central and Southern California; Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Eastern Seaboard. Most of the tests conducted in rural areas found no PFAS.

The USGS is a scientific research organization and does not make policy recommendations. The study’s findings “can be used as a tool to assess the risk of exposure, and to inform decisions on whether you want to test your water or treat it,” Smalling told AP.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed in March the first federal limits for drinking water on PFAS or per-and-polyfluorinated chemicals, which can remain in the body of a person for many years and do not degrade in the environmental. Final decision expected in 2020 or later this year.

The AP reported that the government has not stopped the companies from dumping the chemicals into the public wastewater system. Scott Faber is a senior vice-president of Environmental Working Group.

Faber stated that “we should treat this problem at its source, rather than putting up a traffic light after an accident.” “Polluters should be required to treat their waste.”

States have adopted an array of regulations relating to PFAS. Minnesota has many policies that are currently in place and have been adopted. Minnesota has adopted an omnibus law for 2021 that will provide funding to implement a program to reduce PFAS contamination sources and to prohibit PFAS food packaging.

The policy, which will be implemented in 2025, will require the disclosure of products that contain intentionally added PFAS. It also prohibits the sale and distribution of certain products including carpets, rugs, cleaners, cookwares, cosmetics fabric treatments, children’s products, textile furnishings or ski wax.

The EWG identified 2 858 locations in 50 States and two Territories where PFAS were found in water systems, both public and private. The map can be searched to see if there are PFAS in the area where you live.


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