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Scientist says small amounts of 'Forever Chemicals' in water can harm health

Posted at 11:17 PM, Jul 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-26 23:17:05-04

BALTIMORE — 'Forever chemicals,' known as PFAS chemicals, have been in drinking water for decades.

But recent studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey find that they are more harmful to the human body than experts thought.

Last month, DPW released a water quality report for Baltimore after testing for PFAS.

As of March 2023, the city's water contains 1.94 to 2.65 parts per trillion, which is under the national limit of 4 parts, but experts say it's still concerning.

“There is no amount in drinking water that would be safe," said Dr. Tasha Stoiber.

According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, 'forever chemicals' are in 45 percent of the U.S. water systems, and although the number may not be alarming, experts say this is a big problem.

“You can’t taste them, you can’t smell them, you can’t see them. There is no way to know that they are in you drinking water unless it's been tested," said Dr. Stoiber.

PFAS are not only found in drinking water; it's also found in a large number of household items, like water-resistant clothing, food containers, and non-stick cookware. It's even found in dental floss and sunscreen.

“We can also inhale them through household dust. Because when you do have all of these consumer products, they do tend to, the coatings tend to flake off, they tend to wear down, degrade, and they end up in your household dust," Dr. Stoiber said.

PFAS can cause serious health problems too, like cancer.

They can harm the liver and kidneys, affect your cholesterol levels, and even cause reproductive and developmental harm.

Experts say the best way to reduce exposure to PFAS is by filtering drinking water and eliminating household items that contain these chemicals.

Dr. Stoiber says the best thing is for government agencies to create legislation to help reduce the amount of PFAS in drinking water on a national level.

“We want to see more of the top-down regulations that protects everyone in the community; you know, we have some of the state regulations, there is the proposed federal regulation, but that's what’s needed because not everyone can afford that home filter," said Dr. Stoiber.