USGS Study Finds PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Tap Water Across the U.S.

Water contamination across the U.S. signifies the importance of groundwater and surface water testing.

From a USGS study, least 45% of the nation’s tap water has been reportedly contaminated by PFAS. Image Credit: iStock.
From a USGS study, least 45% of the nation’s tap water has been reportedly contaminated by PFAS. Image Credit: iStock.

The PFAS Predicament in Tap Water

The presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” was discovered in at least 45% of the nation’s tap water, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This unsettling news sparks the need for and importance of groundwater and surface water testing, which is vital to ensuring the safety of drinking water.

PFAS are a class of synthetic chemicals found in various products, including firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, and even textiles. High concentrations of some PFAS may lead to adverse health risks for people, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This study exposes the need for rigorous water testing protocols and helps the public understand that even though tap water is treated and purified, it can still be susceptible to contamination from various sources. Policymakers and water managers should make careful decisions regarding groundwater and surface water testing and treatment options for drinking water.

Los Angeles County Supervisors Seek Explanations

In response to this study, on July 25th, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors requested an inventory of water districts in the county that are not testing for PFAS, according to an article from the Los Angeles Daily News.

Fourth District Supervisor and Board Chair Janice Hahn’s motion was approved by a unanimous vote. It instructs the county’s departments of public works and health to formally request an assessment of PFAS contamination. The levels of PFAS would pose risks to public health across 206 separate water districts and systems. This appeal to the State Water Resources Control Board also involved seeking financial support from state and federal sources for necessary treatment measures.

“These forever chemicals don’t naturally break down in the environment and can build up in our bodies and cause serious health problems,” said Hahn in the article from the Los Angeles Daily News. “We need to know whether they are in our drinking water and at what concentrations, so we can start putting together a plan to get them out.”

Testing the Waterways

Surface water and groundwater testing are important due to the number of contaminants that can leach into bodies of water. This can cause unsafe buildups of harmful chemicals, making the water unsafe for human consumption. In addition to ensuring its safety, water testing also tracks how well water cleanup plans are working and helps maintain the quality of the water.

Groundwater, hidden beneath the Earth’s surface, is a critical source of drinking water for many communities. However, the unseen nature of groundwater makes it vulnerable to pollutants, including PFAS.

Contaminants can infiltrate the groundwater through industrial discharges, agricultural runoff, and more. Conducting groundwater testing can detect the presence of pollutants such as sewage waste and gasoline and assess the quality of the water that eventually reaches our taps.

Surface water, which includes rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, and reservoirs, is another important source of drinking water for cities. It’s also a hub of recreational activities and habitats for aquatic life. However, the visible presence of water does not guarantee or protect its purity.

Pollutants from various sources, such as pesticides and fertilizers, can enter surface water, posing a threat to both the environment and human health. Surface water testing involves analyzing water samples from these bodies to identify pollutants, including PFAS, and assess their impact.

The USGS study serves as a wake-up call for heightened vigilance and collaboration in the realm of water quality. It’s imperative for regulatory bodies, industries, communities, and individuals to follow standards and water testing regulations in an effort to ensure clean and safe drinking water for all.

As the study highlights, the abundance of PFAS in tap water calls for continuous monitoring and swift action to address and possibly mitigate the amount of PFAS in tap water.

Contract Laboratory can help you with water testing

Contract Laboratory regularly receives requests from companies, governments, and organizations for surface water testing and groundwater testing. There are many types of water testing we can help you with, such as:

  • Groundwater
  • Surface Water
  • Wastewater
  • Drinking water
  • Freshwater
  • Residential water
  • Water systems
  • Water pollutants
  • Water treatment

Contract Laboratory can help your company with all types of water testing by connecting you with our network of certified testing labs. Submit a free test request on our website or call us toll-free at 1-855-377-6821.

See more water testing test requests here.