A drinking water study found that toxin contaminated drinking water affects millions in the US. The study was published Oct. 14, 2020 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. Medical News today published an easier to understand version of it on Oct. 30, 2020.
Details of the drinking water study
Chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS are in use to make coatings of bottle caps, stain- and water-repellent fabrics, non-stick pans (Teflon), fire-fighting foams and even material for flossing your teeth.
The industry likes that the materials are stable, but this is exactly the problem for the environment and for humans. PFAS has been in use since the 1940’s. As a result, there is an accumulation of it in the environment. It is most concerning that it leaks into surface drinking water and due to its stability stays in rivers and lakes without deterioration.
Some statistics about PFOA and PFOS
97% of the US population has PFAS in the blood. The following statistics are worth noticing.
- 18 to 80 million people in the US receive tap water with 10 ng/L or more perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) combined
- More than 200 million people in the US drink tap water with PFOA and PFOS at a concentration of 1 ng/L or higher.
Elimination of PFAS and PFOA
A publication in 2013 noted that oral chlorella removed most of the PFAS and PFOA. In addition, the use of reverse osmosis prevents 100% of these chemicals to get into your drinking water. Granular activated carbon filters that are in use as water softeners are also very useful to remove most PFAS and PFOA from the tap water of a house.
Why is PFOS important?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the exposure to PFAS and PFOA, which are the most common PFOS can lead to low infant birth weights, to thyroid hormone disruption, weaken the immune system and cause cancers. The water, that is used to irrigate the soil where crops are growing is often contaminated with these toxins. This way PFAS and PFOA can also enter into the food chain with vegetables and leafy vegetables. Food packaging may contain PFAS and so could the equipment that uses PFAS in food processing.
Study about effects of PFAS and PFOA on humans
An epidemiological study from Birmingham found 6 possible links to PFAS and PFOA exposure in humans.
- Preeclampsia and pregnancy induced hypertension
- Ulcerative colitis
- Thyroid disease
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney cancer (and 19 other cancers as well)
- High cholesterol and cardiovascular disease
The American Cancer Society says that there is strong evidence that thyroid cancer, testicular cancer and kidney cancer are linked to PFAS and PFOA exposure. There is also a possible link to prostate, bladder and ovarian cancer.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS are in use to make coatings of bottle caps, stain- and water-repellent fabrics, non-stick pans (Teflon), fire-fighting foams and even material for flossing your teeth. But the highest concern is that these toxins are in your drinking water. Only water from reverse osmosis and water from granular activated carbon filters that are in use as water softeners is safe to drink. But many households in the US are not using any of these filters. This exposes the population to thyroid cancer, testicular cancer and kidney cancer as the most common cancers. In addition, exposure to PFAS and PFOA causes prostate, bladder and ovarian cancer. Other results of exposure to these toxins are low infant birth weights, thyroid hormone disruption and weakening of the immune system.
What can we do to lower exposure to PFAS and PFOA?
Avoid Teflon pans, use ceramic-coated cookware instead. Use reverse osmosis for your drinking water. And get the rest of your water system from granular activated carbon filters (water softeners). This will minimize your exposure to PFAS and PFOA and help prevent the diseases mentioned.