On Monday, February 4th the local NBC station in Madison, Wisconsin reported that during regular testing of water in Well 15 on the cities east side showed trace amounts of a contaminant, specifically PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyls). The Water Quality Manager for the city reported that the levels of the contaminant found were not harmful to humans, and were below the guidelines set by the EPA. So what they are saying is that there are contaminants in our drinking water, but hey it's okay, it won't hurt you. Several red flags immediately popped up. I wanted to find out what this stuff is, and if it is harmful or not. Although there is some debate over the current leadership within the EPA, I went to their website to see what I could find.
According to the data I found PFAS (PFOS and PFOA) have been used in manufacturing processes since the 1940s. It can be found in an alarming number of everyday products, and has been shown to be harmful. Here is the list of products these contaminants can be found in:
• Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
• Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs)
• Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
• Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
• Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.
Although these chemicals are no longer manufactured in the US, they can still be found in products imported from international manufacturers, such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics. So although we test for contaminant levels here, there may not be any type of regulation pertaining to their uses.
Another issue is that PFAS can "build up in the body and persist over time". What does this stuff do to our bodies? Here is the statement and list found on the EPA website:
According to studies of PFOA and PFOS, they can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals. The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:
• low infant birth weights,
• effects on the immune system,
• cancer (for PFOA), and
• thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS)
So more poisons in the water that are harmful to life. I found thousands of articles related to mercury, uranium (mines on the Navajo Nation reservation) contamination and cleanups, lead, copper, fracking wastewater, and atomic waste absorptions. It is truly amazing how easy it has been for us to dig, build, possess and degrade lands that belonged to others, poisoning the water, soil, and air that every creature on this planet depends on for sustaining life. Globally, we have taken so much. What have we given? Technology, yes. But what is the price for all of it? Glaciers melting, droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, unbreathable air - an ever-growing list of the harm we have caused, however unintentionally.
Earlier today, I heard that scientists are now predicting that we have twelve years before we reach the point of no-return. In twelve years my granddaughter will be a young adult and my grandson will be entering high school. But that may not be in their futures, especially if we continue the same practices that we have. We can ignore the fact that our soil and water contain harmful contaminants. We can continue to strip fossil fuels that are no longer a viable source of energy. With all of the discord in the world today, this is the one thing that affects every living thing. This is our priority. This is the task we must take on together. In our long history on this planet we have a proven ability to adapt and change. It is no longer a choice.
> From <https://www.nbc15.com/content/news/City-of-Madison-begins-year-long-study-of-east-side-well-505330791.html
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