PFAS Found near Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids


Via Flickr

Maxwell Bernstein | April 2, 2021

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been used in industry in the United States since the 1940s, and never break down, according to the EPA. Since they never break down, they accumulate in the body and in the environment.

According to the Iowa Capital Dispatch, these chemicals are found in, “airport firefighting foam, food packaging, carpet, dental floss, cookware, paints, cosmetics, cleaning products and waterproof clothing, and other products.”

Scientists from the University of Iowa have found PFAS in 20 rural wells near the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids and 14 wells south and east of the airport, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

The health effects of PFAS include infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer, and thyroid hormone disruption.

Des Moines Water Works Detects Toxic PFAS in Drinking Water


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Nicole Welle | March 29, 2021

Des Moines Water Works recently detected low levels of PFOS, a toxic chemical found in multiple human-made products, in finished drinking water in Des Moines.

PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) is part of a large list of compounds called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances), which are commonly found in products like popcorn bags, pizza boxes and clothing. These chemicals repel water and oil, and they are commonly called “forever chemicals” since they do not break down and stay in the environment for a long time. PFAS levels detected in Des Moines drinking water were at 6.5 parts per trillion, which is well below the EPA’s health advisory level of 70 ppt. However, even low levels are a concern and have triggered further investigation, according to a Des Moines Water Works announcement.

PFAS chemicals are known to pose threats to human health and the environment. The EPA has connected them to cancer, low birth weight, immune system problems and thyroid issues. While the levels detected in Des Moines’ drinking water are low, a lot more testing is required before specialists can fully understand how PFAS are affecting Iowa’s water supply.

Des Moines Water Works has reached out to the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Attorney General and Iowa’s Congressional delegation to ask for help in resolving the issue. The Iowa DNR plans to test 50 locations they consider highly vulnerable to pollution for PFAS contamination. The federal Department of Defense is also conducting tests to follow up on high PFAS contamination previously detected in groundwater near the Des Moines and Sioux City airports.

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.