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Latest data shows 26 million Americans possibly drinking water contaminated with "forever chemicals"

Data shows PFAS contamination found in multiple locations in southwest Florida.
Running water
Posted at 6:45 PM, Sep 11, 2023

It’s a danger you can’t see, smell or taste.

For at least 26 million Americans, including tens of thousands in Southwest Florida, that danger is found in your drinking water.

The latest update from the Environmental Working Group’s interactive PFAS map shows 328 new water systems in the country contaminated with so-called forever chemicals.

“These chemicals are very unique in their ability to cause harm in our body,” said David Andrews, Ph.D. with the non-profit EWG.

PFAS chemicals, called forever chemicals due to the fact that they don’t break down naturally in the environment, have been linked to cancer, developmental delays in children and obesity among other illnesses.

PFAS chemicals are used to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water.

In August, the EPA released the first results of PFAS tests from 2,000 water utilities across the nation.

Tests are planned for a total of 10,000 water systems by the end of 2025.

According to the EWG, the initial round of data shows contaminated PFAS chemicals in water systems servicing 26.3 million people.

Andrews, who studies how chemicals detected in our drinking water impact our health, estimates the final numbers will show upwards of 200 million Americans drinking PFAS contaminated water.

“It’s shocking both how prevalent these chemicals are in our environment and the lack of federal action and urgency to address this problem,” said Andrews.

The interactive map from EWG shows multiple PFAS contaminations in southwest Florida..

“Rest assured that Lee County Utilities’ water is safe to drink,” Lee County said in a statement to Fox 4 Investigates.

“To ensure the safety of our drinking water, LCU has implemented various treatment options at four out of our five water plants.”

The EPA plans to test 10,000 water utility systems which serve at least 3,000 customers each.

The EWG has a list of filters which help reduce your exposure to PFAS chemicals.