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New testing shows over 200 million Americans are drinking contaminated water: 'We're seeing more and more people are exposed'

"Even extremely low levels of exposure can negatively impact our health."

"Even extremely low levels of exposure can negatively impact our health."

Photo Credit: iStock

There is something in the water, and it may be forever. As more research comes out on what goes into water streams and into our bodies, so too are the realizations that what we may be drinking is not the best for us.

What's happening?

In a release by The Guardian, it is reported that up to 70 million people in the United States are being exposed to PFAs, known as "forever chemicals," in drinking water systems.

Testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still being carried out, with only one-third of the country's public water systems analyzed so far. As further testing is completed, the Agency predicts that up to 200 million people will be discovered to be exposed to PFAS, accounting for about 60% of the population in the United States. 

As more instances of water-related sickness are recorded, more studies are finding similar results. In a report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, it was estimated that as many as 200 million Americans are drinking contaminated water, aligning with the findings by the U.S. EPA. 

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are long-lasting, human-made chemicals found in everyday items, such as nonstick cookware, grease-resistant food packaging, and waterproof clothing. These chemicals can eventually enter waterways. 

Why PFAS found in drinking water are concerning? 

As The Guardian explained, these chemicals are linked to many harmful health effects, including liver disease, cancer, and lowered immunity, among others. 

"As we get more data in from water systems, we're seeing PFAS is pretty prevalent in U.S. drinking water supplies, and we're seeing more and more people are exposed in states across the U.S.," said Jared Hayes, a policy analyst with the Environmental Working Group

Public health testing is already showing traces of PFAS in people's blood, where small amounts can lead to health complications.

Erik D. Olson, Natural Resource Defense Council's senior strategic director of health and food, confirmed this by saying: "For some PFAS, even extremely low levels of exposure can negatively impact our health."

If PFAS exposure continues, water sources and people's overall health can be affected over time. 

What's being done about it? 

According to The Guardian, the federal government is pushing for stricter regulations on "forever chemicals," such as demanding companies that produce PFAS to pay $14 billion for solutions, such as reverse osmosis systems, that will lessen the amount of PFAS present. 

On the individual level, adjusting everyday habits, such as cooking with glass or ceramic pans instead of nonstick is a way to prevent PFAS from entering your food.  

With nearly 70% of companies reporting improved toxic safety programs, according to the Mind the Store campaign, now is the time for corporations to be held accountable so that we can enjoy clean water and long, healthy living. 

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