Potable water for 15 million Americans in 27 states is polluted with a toxic compound
The toxic chemicals are called PFCs and are connected to cancer, thyroid disease, and weak immune system
June 11, 2017: According to a report released by a non-profit Environmental Working Group on Thursday, 15 million Americans living in 27 states may be consuming unsafe drinking water tainted with a toxic compound.
The toxic chemical, Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) is so deadly that it may cause cancer, thyroid disease, and weak immune system. Even a small concentration of this toxic substance in drinking water is viewed as a risk to general wellbeing, as indicated by the report by EWG and Northeastern University.
EWG reported that PFCs have waterproof and nonstick properties. They were formerly utilized as a part of many purchase items, including cookware, outdoor clothing, food packaging and firefighting foam.
Bill Walker, managing director of EWG stated in a press release, “It’s remarkable that the richest country on Earth can’t guarantee its citizens that their drinking water is completely safe and has no long-term health implications.”
The EWG and Northeastern University made an interactive map consolidating information from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and publicly recorded cases of PFC contamination originating from assembling plants, military airbases, civilian airports and fire training sites.
It is clear that America is likely to have drinking water crises in future. In spite of the evident proofs of the health dangers of PFCs, there are no controls executed by the government against these chemicals.
The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 is one of the underpinning environmental laws, consisting of rules that regulate about 100 contaminants found in drinking water. It has been a long time since the EPA has included another drinking water contaminant to the outdated Safe Drinking Water Act.
– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94
Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns, but the limited data appears reassuring, the U.N. agency said its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly because of the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
“The headline message is to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it is low,” Bruce Gordon of the WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, told a briefing.
What happens to plastic in the body?
The WHO did not recommended routine monitoring for microplastics in drinking water. But research should focus on issues including what happens to chemical additives in the particles once they enter the gastrointestinal tract, it said.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometres in diameter and are excreted from the body, while “smaller particles are more likely to cross the gut wall and reach other tissues,” it said.
Health concerns have centered around smaller particles, said Jennifer De France, a WHO technical expert and one of the report’s authors.
“For these smallest size particles, where there is really limited evidence, we need know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts,” she said.
More research is needed into risks from microplastics exposure throughout the environment — “in our drinking water, air and food,” she added.
Alice Horton, a microplastics researcher at Britain’s National Oceanography Centre, said in a statement on the WHO’s findings: “There are no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless.”
“It is important to put concerns about exposure to microplastics from drinking water into context: we are widely exposed to microplastics in our daily lives via a wide number of sources, of which drinking water is just one,” she added.
A credit card’s worth a week
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June. That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens, including from human and livestock waste entering water sources, that cause deadly diarrhea disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.