Breaking: U.S. EPA Rushes Out Warning To Millions Of Americans — “Shockingly Toxic” PFAS Detected In Tap Water Are Dangerous At Near-Zero Levels

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

What You Need To Know

  • EPA advisory: Two cancer-linked ”forever chemicals” found in tap water (PFOA & PFOS) pose serious health risks, even at tiny, undetectable levels.
  • PFAS are far more toxic than previously thought; EPA shrinks existing tap water guidelines by 17,000x to "near-zero."
  • “Get this stuff out of our drinking water,” says National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
  • EWG estimates more than 200 million Americans could be at risk.
  • Clearly Filtered’s pitcher filter is the only pitcher filter certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA) to remove both PFOA & PFOS.

Summary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an unprecedented and stunning health advisory that affects millions of Americans from coast to coast: Two notorious chemicals commonly detected in public drinking water supplies, PFOA and PFOS, are far more toxic than previously thought and can pose serious human health risks, including cancer, infertility, low birthweight, thyroid issues, and more, even at undetectable, “near zero” levels.


Background & Details

New science revealed previous advisories for PFOA and PFOS (two notorious compounds part of a group of chemicals known as PFAS) are not nearly strong enough to protect public health. The new advisories issued by the EPA at EPA.gov are up to 17,000 times stronger than their predecessors, reducing safe levels of PFOA and PFOS in public drinking water supplies to virtually zero. (From 70 parts per trillion to just four parts per quadrillion for PFOA and .02 parts per trillion for PFOS.)  

"The science is clear. These chemicals are shockingly toxic at extremely low doses,” says Erik Olsen of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Get this stuff out of our drinking water.”

Experts went so far as to “rush these notices” by not waiting for a review by the agency’s Science Advisory Board. Concern even extended to the White House, as the government plans to pour $1 billion into grants in an attempt to address the issue. In the meantime, new advisory levels are also being set for PFBS and GenX, two potentially dangerous compounds created as alternatives to PFOA and PFOS.

Michigan attorney and co-chair of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, Anthony Spaniola, summed it up like this: The “EPA has confirmed that there are effectively no safe levels of PFOA or PFOS, and it has shot down the notion that newer PFAS chemicals, like GenX, are harmless.”

Our breakthrough pitcher filter is the only pitcher filter certified by the WQA (Water Quality Association) to remove PFOA and PFOS from contaminated water.


What Are PFAS?

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) are just two of thousands of chemicals classified as PFAS.

PFAS is an acronym for an invisible, odorless, and harmful family of virtually indestructible, man-made chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These synthetic chemicals are most often used in consumer products including non-stick cookware and coatings, clothing, food packaging, and firefighting foam. This is the very class of chemicals made famous by Teflon.

(Francesca Giacomello/Environmental Protection UK)

PFAS have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because they can survive (and potentially thrive) in the human body for years, if not decades. (This fact sheet from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contains more information about PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS.)


Why Are PFAS Dangerous?

Some PFAS have been linked to the following health effects:

  • Various types of cancer (including kidney, prostate, and testicular cancer).
  • Thyroid disease.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Multiple infertility factors.
  • Potential additional effects on developing babies and pregnant women. 
  • Plus, PFAS can potentially affect your cholesterol levels, liver, and immune system.

  • The EPA’s announcement basically indicates that PFOA and PFOS, specifically, are far more dangerous in water than authorities previously thought, even at levels so low that the chemicals often can’t be detected by modern technology. 


    How Do PFAS Get Into Tap Water?

    PFAS are readily found in the environment as a result of groundwater contamination and runoff often linked to industrial sites, landfills, airports, wildfires, manufacturing sites, and military bases where the chemicals have been used and in many cases, have seeped into the soil. There have also been cases of these chemicals being dumped into rivers and waterways by manufacturers, causing mass contamination.


    PFAS Have Been Detected In Public Water Supplies In All 50 States

    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates more than 200 million Americans are already drinking tap water contaminated with PFAS. Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, warned the EPA's announcement regarding PFOA and PFOS "should set off alarm bells for consumers and regulators.”


    Who Is Affected?

    “It’s likely an issue in every community, said Sydney Evans, an EWG water quality analyst who has conducted PFAS testing across the country. As of October 4th of last year, 2,854 locations in 50 states had known PFAS pollution in public and private water systems. 

    If you live on or near a military base, or in a certain metropolitan areas (including areas of Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, New Jersey, and New York, to name a few), beware that contamination tends to be the highest in these areas. 


    How Do I Know If PFAS Are In My Water?

    Like the majority of tap water contaminants, PFAS can’t be seen, smelled, or tasted, even at low levels. The unfortunate truth is these new advisories do not qualify as water safety standards that can be enforced by law. Therefore, testing is not required. You can enter your zip code into our tap water database here to see if your public water system has proactively chosen to do any PFAS testing. 

     

    How To Protect Yourself From PFOA & PFOS In Water

    Remember, PFOA and PFOS often can’t even be detected at the suggested levels with standard water treatment technology. Therefore, it is going to require further legislation as well as time (measured in years) and resources (measured in billions of dollars) to effectively reduce these contaminants in public drinking water systems.

    The vast majority of water filters, including typical carbon filters sold by leading brands and retailers, are not powerful enough to remove PFAS. In fact, our breakthrough pitcher filter is the only pitcher filter certified by the WQA to remove both PFOA and PFOS. For your safety, we encourage you to get protection here.

     

     

     

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