Drinking water in North Carolina and Iowa is most toxic after companies dumped chemicals
A new study has revealed that North Carolina and Iowa have the areas with the most toxic tap water in the country, after several companies dumped chemicals into their water sources for decades.
While nearly half of the tap water in the US was found to be laced with hormone-distorting “forever chemicals,” Brunswick County, NC and Quad Cities in Iowa had significantly higher levels of PFAs in their drinking water supplies.
In the most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey tested water sources for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at more than 700 sites across the country.
They found that the next city with the worst levels of PFAs in tap water, Miami, Florida, lagged far behind the top two at 56.7 ppt. Brunswick County recorded levels at 185.9ppt and Quad Cities at 109.8ppt.
In recent years there have been a growing number of federal drinking water guidelines, but there are currently no enforceable national drinking water standards. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits PFAS to 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt) for drinking water, a small amount due to their link to cancer, infertility, obesity and autism.
Brunswick County, NC and Quad Cities, Iowa have significantly higher levels of PFAs in their drinking supplies
The Environmental Working Group, an activist organization focused on environmental pollutants, mapped the communities and military sites confirmed to have PFAS contamination
North Carolina in general is known to have significant problems with PFAS pollution as the state has a large number of military bases, airports and industrial sites. PFAS are commonly found in firefighting foam and equipment, leading to contamination of military bases and airports.
The problem is especially great along the Cape Fear River, in part because of the DuPont plant in Fayetteville and its spin-off, Chemours.
For more than four decades, the DuPont chemical company has been dumping PFAs into the river, which supplies drinking water to about 350,000 North Carolinians, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Many residents of the area have claimed over the years that they contracted cancer from the contamination. In 2019, scientists recommended expanding a study of suspected thyroid cancer clusters in the area, as reported by NC Newsline.
In 2017, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority filed a court case against the company for dumping toxic materials into the river, and in 2020 the state’s attorney general filed another.
Neighborhoods with the highest PFAS levels in drinking water
Concentrations are measured in parts per trillion (PPT)
- Brunswick County, NC at 185.9 ppt
- Quad Cities, Iowa at 109.8ppt
- Miami, Fla. at 56.7ppt
- Bergen County, NJ at 51.4ppt
- Wilmington, NC at 50.5ppt
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 46.3ppt
- Louisville, Ky. at 45.2ppt
- New Orleans, LA at 41.8ppt
- Charleston, SC at 33.3ppt
- Decatur, Ala. at 24.1ppt
Information courtesy of a separate report from the Environmental Working Group
DailyMail.com has reached out to DuPont and Chemours for comment on this story.
In a statement to DailyMail.com on Friday, a Chemours spokesperson said, “There are many sources of PFAS in the lower Cape Fear River basin of NC. Chemours uses only a small subset of non-polymeric PFAS in our manufacturing processes.
Chemours has taken numerous actions to comprehensively address HFPO-DA and other fluorinated organic process emissions at our manufacturing site in Fayetteville, NC, under a Consent Order Agreement, entered into in February 2019, with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ ) and Cape Fear River Watch.
Chemours also recently completed construction of an underground barrier wall adjacent to the Cape Fear River that spans more than a mile and averages six stories deep, as well as a state-of-the-art groundwater extraction and treatment system, reducing the amount of PFAS compounds reaching the river .
“The fluorinated products made at Chemours’ Fayetteville Works site are critical to improving the U.S. supply chain for semiconductors and electric vehicles, as well as producing green energy to slow global warming. Our fluorinated products are key components in the production of solutions we rely on every day, such as smartphones, but also in solar panels, medical devices and countless other products.”
In Iowa’s Quad Cities, the 3M plant in nearby Cordova, Illinois, is partly responsible for the high levels of toxins in tap water. The company is one of the largest producers of PFAS in the country and has been accused of dumping chemicals into the Mississippi River. Quad City Times.
The Quad Cities area of Iowa includes Davenport and Bettendorf in the southeastern part of the state.
The factory makes adhesives for post-it notes, golf clubs and LCD screens.
DailyMail.com has contacted 3M for comment on this story.
The new study has sparked concern across the country, with New York Representative Pat Ryan saying the situation is “unacceptable.”
“Everyone should have the freedom to turn on the tap without fear of drinking poisoned water,” he tweeted. “We must take immediate action to remove these toxins from our water.”
Experts said the findings were “frightening” given the scale of the problem and the link between the toxins and serious health problems such as cancer, infertility, birth defects and hormone problems.
It can take thousands of years for these microscopic man-made chemicals to break down in the environment or in the human body, hence the name “forever chemicals.”
Tap water is particularly toxic in the areas supplied by North Carolina’s Cape Fear River, in part because of the DuPont plant in Fayetteville and its spin-off, Chemours.
In Iowa’s Quad Cities, the 3M plant in nearby Cordova, Illinois, is partially responsible for the high levels of toxins in tap water due to dumping of chemicals into the Mississippi River
The report found that 45 percent of drinking water sources contained at least one PFAS — with the highest concentrations in the Great Plains, the Great Lakes, the East Coast and Central/Southern California.
Researchers set out to find levels of PFAS in water sources at 716 unique locations across the country, in both urban and rural areas.
Over the course of five years of collecting samples to detect PFAS levels, the team concluded that faucets in densely populated urban centers were generally more laden with the eternal chemicals than faucets in rural parts of the country.
This is because everyday household products, from frying pans to food wrappers, contain PFAS that leach into the water supply, and urban areas tend to be closer to factories.
The main purpose of PFAS compounds is to repel water and oil, which makes non-stick pans so much easier to clean and why certain jackets and tents can withstand rain.
PFAS can seep into the water supply simply by washing the dishes. The compounds can also seep into our food if the packaging is made grease-resistant — think fast-food cheeseburgers — or if the non-stick coating on pots and pans begins to deteriorate.
PFAS are also common in pesticides used to feed crops, which produce chemical-rich runoff that can enter drinking water supplies.