The Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University joined together to compile a study on America’s drinking water. The results are of interest for everyone, and should be of particular concern to those trying to start families. PFAS chemicals were found in 610 locations across 43 states, affecting at least 19 million people. Michigan seems to be particularly hard hit, although this may be because the state legislature there is the most proactive around testing.
PFAS chemicals are man-made substances which interfere with endocrine processes, potentially linking them to infertility or sub-par fertility, particularly in women. They have been definitively linked to increasing cholesterol levels, and to exacerbating the effects of PCOS. They have also been associated with low-birth weight in babies, negative effects on the immune system, cancer, and thyroid hormone disruption.
PFAS chemicals do not break down over time. They accumulate in the body and stay there, making long-term exposure particularly concerning. There are, however, things you can do to reduce your exposure and keep your family safer. These include:
- Install a carbon filter on your faucets. These filter out a percentage of PFAS toxins, as well as other chemicals.
- Find out about your water by requesting that your local legislators provide a copy of the routine water analysis which many municipalities perform annually. They are legally required to supply this information to consumers when asked.
- Find out where your local water supply is generated from. Reach out to your water supplier for their consumer-confidence report. If they do not comply with this request, let your local legislators know and request an action plan for procuring the information if it is not currently on file.
- If your water is sourced from a local well, find out if it is tested regularly and if so, who does the testing. You may be solely responsible for well water on your own property, or for any water which does not come from a public water system.
- Get your water tested by the county health department which serves your area, or by a state-certified laboratory. These often provide their own containers, and instructions for sample collection. Find one near you by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791.
- Stay proactive. If you don’t like the results you get after testing, continue to advocate to your legislators for yourself, your family and your neighbors. And, stay strong. You are not helpless in this situation. Knowledge is power.
- Basic information on PFAS. https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas
- Daly, E.R., et al. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) exposure assessment in a community exposed to contaminated drinking water, New Hampshire, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29514764
- Mapping the PFAS contamination crisis: new data show 610 sites in 43 states. https://www.ewg.org/release/mapping-pfas-contamination-crisis-new-data-show-610-sites-43-states
- Velez, M.P., et al. Maternal exposure to perfluorinated chemicals and reduced fecundity: the MIREC study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25567616A