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

Groundwater and surface water testing is essential to detect water contamination

From a USGS study, least 45% of the nation’s tap water has been reportedly contaminated by PFAS. Image Credit: iStock.
According to a USGS study, at 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 highlights the importance of groundwater and surface water testing, which is vital to ensuring the safety of drinking water.

PFAS are a class of synthetic chemicals used 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 evidences the need for rigorous water testing protocols. Even though tap water is treated and purified, it can be susceptible to contamination from multiple sources and PFAS can be difficult to remove. Policymakers and corporate water management companies must make careful decisions regarding groundwater and surface water testing and treatment options for drinking water.

Los Angeles county supervisors seek explanations

In response to the USGS study, on July 25th, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors requested an inventory of water districts in the county that were not testing for PFAS at the time.

Fourth District Supervisor and Board Chair Janice Hahn’s motion was approved by a unanimous vote. It instructed the county’s departments of public works and health to formally request an assessment of PFAS contamination. The levels of PFAS were found to pose risks to public health across 206 separate water districts and systems. This appeal to the State Water Resources Control Board also sought 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. Buildup of harmful chemicals make the water unsafe for human consumption or activities. In addition to determining its safety, water testing can also track progress of water cleanup efforts or overall water quality.

Contaminants can infiltrate groundwater, a critical source of drinking water for many communities through many sources, including industrial discharge, agricultural runoff, and urban surface runoff from rain or snowmelt. Groundwater testing can detect the presence of a wide range of pollutants, such as sewage and petrochemicals 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. It also supports wildlife and recreational activities.

Surface water is just as vulnerable to pollutants as groundwater from many of the same sources, posing a threat to both the environment and human health. Surface water testing involves analyzing water samples from these bodies to detect a variety of pollutants, including PFAS.

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 treatment plans.

A contract laboratory can assist you with water testing

Contract Laboratory regularly receives requests from companies, governments, and organizations for testing of

  • 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.