PFAS level contaminate drinking water in over 20 counties in North Carolina

PFAS levels contaminate drinking water in over 20 counties in North Carolina
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 7:45 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -How safe is your drinking water? A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that 20 new drinking water systems across North Carolina have been identified to exceed the proposed safe levels for toxic PFAS contaminants known as “forever chemicals.”

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), being exposed to PFAS chemicals can lead to cancer, thyroid diseases, weakened childhood immunity, and other health problems.

That is why the EPA proposed regulating lower levels of PFAS, but many counties in North Carolina are not meeting that level yet.

Water is an essential part of life.

However, a new report from the EPA shows that much of the country’s drinking supply is now contaminated with so-called forever chemicals known as PFAS, and despite efforts to filter it out of drinking water systems, experts say it’s not that simple.

Riley Lewis, the White Oak waterkeeper says, “Hopefully in the next couple of years we’ll be able to have safe drinking water. however, this is going to be very expensive and hard to implement for these water treatment facilities. especially since there are so many ways these pollutants are still entering our environment, groundwater, and our homes.

The EPA’s report shows that some of the affected sites are here in eastern North Carolina, including the Greenville Utilities Commission, Neuse Regional Water and Sewer Authority which covers Lenoir and Pitt Counties, and Martin Country Regional WASA.

It says that some of the chemicals detected were bromate, chloroform, and chromium, all of which are known to cause cancer.

Officials with the GUC say that’s why they are already taking steps to keep the water as clean as possible.

Steve Hawley, the public information officer at Greenville Utilities told WITN, “We’ll continue to do the testing that we have to do, we’ll continue to monitor other water treatment plants and see what they’re doing to lower the levels, and we’ll also stay in touch with water organizations to study the best practices.”

Researchers at East Carolina University say there are also steps individuals can take to be better prepared.

Jamie DeWitt, the ECU pharmacology and toxicology professor shared, “Arming yourself with information is the first step to reducing your exposure and reducing your health risk. find out where your water comes from, find out what type of filtration is used, find out if you need to install filtration, and then find out how you can minimize your exposure through products at your home.”

According to Professor Jamie Dewitt, people can purchase filtration systems with granular activated carbon filters or reverse osmosis to filter out most PFAS in the water.

Currently, there are only safety recommendations called health advisories for PFAS levels in drinking water.

The EPA has pledged to finalize PFAS drinking water standards by the end of the year and utilities will then likely have three to five years to comply.

Legal limits for contaminants in tap water have not been updated in almost two decades.