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The Invisible Threat LURKING in Your Tap Water

It’s a scary thought—the very water you rely on to quench your thirst and nourish your body could be hiding a sinister secret.

A class of chemicals so insidious, they’ve earned the nickname “forever chemicals.”

These pervasive pollutants, officially known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are found in everything from non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics to fast food wrappers and firefighting foam.

They’re called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down naturally, instead they accumulate in the environment and our bodies over time.

And here’s the really unsettling part—they’re turning up in the drinking water of millions of Americans, often without their knowledge.

But a groundbreaking new rule could finally start to turn the tide against these toxic invaders. For the first time ever, the US government has set a national standard to limit the levels of these dangerous chemicals in our tap water.

It’s a historic step forward in the fight to protect public health—but is it enough?

First, let’s talk about why these forever chemicals are so concerning. Studies have linked PFAS exposure to a laundry list of health problems, including:

  • Various types of cancer
  • Thyroid disease
  • Reproductive issues
  • Heart and liver damage
  • Weakened immunity

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Scientists are still uncovering the full scope of how these chemicals can wreak havoc on our bodies.

What’s more, PFAS are so ubiquitous, they’re found in the blood of a staggering 97 percent of Americans, according to the CDC. We’re talking newborns to grandparents, all carrying traces of these persistent pollutants.

So how do these chemicals keep finding their way into our water supply? It’s a complex web, but some common sources include:

  • Manufacturing facilities that use PFAS
  • Firefighting training sites
  • Landfills and dumps
  • Sewage treatment plants

Once PFAS enter the environment, they seep into the soil and groundwater, eventually making their way into the rivers, lakes, and wells that feed our taps.

That’s where this new national standard comes in. For the first time, water utilities across the country will have to test for and filter out several of the most common PFAS chemicals, including PFOA, PFOS, and GenX.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set strict limits on the levels of these chemicals allowed in drinking water, with the goal of reducing exposure for some 100 million Americans.

Under the new rule, water systems will have to bring PFOA and PFOS levels down to 4 parts per trillion (ppt) each, while other PFAS like GenX will be capped at 10 ppt. For context, one part per trillion is like a single drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

It’s an ambitious target, but a necessary one. The EPA says there is no safe level of exposure to these chemicals, so the goal is to get as close to zero as possible.

While this new standard is a huge step forward, it will take time for water utilities to implement the changes. And even then, it only covers a handful of the thousands of PFAS chemicals out there.

So what can you do to limit your exposure in the meantime? Here are a few tips:

  • Invest in a high-quality water filter certified to remove PFAS. Look for ones using activated carbon or reverse osmosis.
  • Avoid non-stick cookware and opt for stainless steel, glass, or cast iron instead.
  • Steer clear of stain-resistant carpets, furniture, and clothing.
  • Cut back on fast food and greasy takeout, which often comes in PFAS-treated wrappers.
  • Support local efforts to clean up contaminated sites and regulate PFAS use.

Remember, every step you take to reduce your exposure counts. And with this new national standard, we’re finally moving in the right direction to ensure the water we rely on is safe for generations to come.

To fighting forever chemicals,

Rachel Mace
Managing Editorial Director, e-Alert
with contributions from the research team

P.S. Household items linked to liver damage? Get the details here.


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