High PFAS levels found in Quad Cities drinking water


Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Tyler Chalfant | January 23rd, 2020

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the drinking water of several U.S. cities. The Quad Cities had one of the highest levels of the toxic fluorinated chemicals found in the study, behind only Brunswick County, North Carolina. These two locations were the only two where PFAS levels exceeded the 70 parts per trillion advised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

PFAS have been found to interfere with natural hormones, increase cholesterol levels, affect the immune system, and increase the risk of some cancers. Because the substances were once used in the production of consumer products, most people have some levels of PFAS in their blood, though those levels have decreased since they were phased out of production. PFAS are still used in a variety of industrial processes and in firefighting foams used at airstrips. Last year, high levels of PFAS were found near Air National Guard bases in Des Moines and Sioux City.

Of the 44 locations tested, only three had levels of PFAS that were undetectable or below what the EWG considers hazardous for human health. The EWG places a stricter limit on PFAS levels than the EPA does, considering anything above one part per trillion to be harmful. At 34 of the locations sampled, PFAS were found that had previously not been detected by EPA testing.

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