To add to the “what might kill me in my home today?” files: According to a new report from Harvard researchers, 33 states have high levels of industrial pollutants polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl (PFASs) in their municipal water supplies.
There are loads of chemicals in our water, but PFASs are pretty rough. They’ve been linked with cancer, hormone disruption, high cholesterol, and obesity. High levels of the toxins were found in the water supplies of at least 6 million people, according to study author Xindi Hu, but because the government doesn’t keep data on PFASs in drinking water for a third of the country, exposure is likely far more widespread.
How did so many PFASs get in the water supply? Well, they can be found in literally thousands of wildly varied products — from pizza boxes to camping gear. They’re the Max Martin of product manufacturing.
“Virtually all Americans are exposed to these compounds,” Hu told the Washington Post. “They never break down. Once they are released into the environment, they are there.”
Currently, PFASs aren’t regulated at all. But in May, EPA issued health advisories for polyfluoroalkyl substances, and asked utilities to follow stricter standards. But as Hu notes, we’re definitely stuck with them for now.