Study: Drinking Water Quality is a Big Worry in the United States
Recent research conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey has shown that drinking-water quality is a big worry in the United States because of certain chemicals called PFAS.
Before we discuss the research findings, let's address a simple question: What are PFAS?
PFAS, which stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are chemicals used to make things resistant to water and grease. They can be found in non-stick pans, cleaning products for removing grease and oil, and certain food packaging materials like microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers, and pizza boxes.
The problem with PFAS is that they stick around for a long time and don't break down easily. This means they can stay in the air, water, and soil for a long time and even build up in our bodies if we're exposed to them. They have been connected to significant health issues like cancer and liver disease.
Scientists did a study from 2016 to 2021 where they collected tap water samples from different places in the U.S. They found that almost half of the tested tap water could have at least one type of PFAS.
The study found that 25% of the water samples from rural areas had harmful substances, but that percentage went up to almost 75% in urban areas. Certain regions like the Great Plains, Great Lakes, Central/Southern California, and the Eastern Seaboard (where New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are located) had more exposure to these substances.
The study also showed that both public water supplies regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and private wells had similar levels of PFAS contamination. So, no matter where the water comes from, there's a risk of these chemicals being present.