Drinking water is supposedly good for the body, but findings of a new study revealed that many water supplies in the U.S. expose millions of Americans to toxins that are known to cause a range of health problems.
This new study showed that many of the country's water supplies are contaminated with dangerous firefighting chemicals, which are toxic to the body.
Exposure to these chemicals is known to up risks for cancer, hormonal disruptions, obesity, compromised immune system, low birth weight and higher cholesterol levels.
For the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters on Aug. 9, researchers looked at data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on more than 36,000 water samples collected from around the country between 2013 and 2015.
They found that in many public drinking water sources, the levels of chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs, are above what is recommended by the federal government.
The researchers found that 66 public water supplies that serve 6 million people in the U.S. had at least a water sample that measured at or above the safely limit of 70 parts per trillion of PFASs currently recommended by the EPA. Delaware, Newark, Warminster and Pennsylvania in particular were found to have high concentration levels of these chemicals.
PFASs are organic compounds with a range of uses. The chemicals are used in food packaging materials such as popcorn bags and pizza boxes, nonstick cooking pans, fabrics and firefighting foams.
Because these chemicals are widely used, they migrate into household dust, food, air, soil, ground and surface water, eventually making their way into the water that the people use to cook food and drink.
The chemicals were found to show up more often near sites where firefighting chemicals are commonly used such as in military bases and airports. They also tend to be present near sites where the chemicals are manufactured.
"During firefighting practice drills large volumes of these chemicals wash into surface and ground waters and can end up in our drinking water," said study researcher Arlene Blum, from the University of California Berkeley.
The problem with exposure to PFASs is they are likely to remain in the body for a long time. While other chemicals can be excreted from the body within hours, it would take more than three years for the body to eliminate just half of the amount of PFASs that a person ingests. These chemicals will accumulate in the body if a person is exposed to them daily.