CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey of 279 public water systems in W.Va. found that 67 of those systems had detectable amounts of at least one per- and polyflouroalkyl substance (PFAS).
PFAS are widely used chemicals that break down very slowly in the environment, can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time, and may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. Out of 10,000-12,000 known PFAS, about 600 are currently used in the United States.
These chemicals can be found in everyday products, including non-stick pans, firefighting foam, waterproof clothing, food packaging and dental floss.
The report, prepared in cooperation with the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection, W.Va. Department of Health and other organizations, tested both ground and surface raw water sources (not drinking water, just where drinking water comes from). The full 52-page report can be read here.
Below you can find a map of W.Va. testing sites and the number of different PFAS chemicals detected there, as well as an info-graphic on how these chemicals can end up in public water.
Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition Angie Rosser said in a press release that treatment to remove PFAS from drinking water is a necessary and immediate step to protect W.Va. citizens.
“The EPA health advisories tell us that any detectable amount of PFOS or PFOA in drinking water
signifies danger,” Rosser said. “Agencies must take aggressive steps to control and reduce the use and release of these dangerous substances at their source.”
Jenna Dodson, a staff scientist at the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said they are aware of chemical manufacturers are discharging PFAS into waterways and have exceeded their permit limits, referencing a May report from Chemours Washington Works Plant that showed three discharge exceedances that month.