Why cancer is still lurking in your drinking water

There are poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals in your drinking water.

If you’re thinking that’s an old story, and one you’ve heard from us before, you’re right.

Chemical companies and government agencies collude to hide these poisons or disguise them as something else.

Also, not news.

Almost exactly a year ago, I told you about Wilbur Tennant, the West Virginia cow farmer whose cows were dying horrible deaths after drinking from the creek adjoining the farm.

For decades, chemical maker DuPont had been dumping a toxic chemical into the landfill adjoining Wilbur Tennant’s farm. It took a court order for DuPont to reveal what they knew about the deadly nature of PFOA.

Also a year ago, I told you about the snail’s pace at which the Environmental Protection Agency has moved to enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974.

Sadly, a year later, I have only more of the same to report.

A year later, we’re still drinking poison

Last May, former EPA chief Scott Pruitt said that PFAS contamination was a “national priority.” He pledged swift action to bring it under control.

Well, Scott Pruitt’s gone, but the poisonous drinking water problem is still here…

Just to review, PFAS contamination refers to perfluorinated chemicals. The one most familiar to you might be PFOA, found in nonstick cookware lined with Dupont’s Teflon.

Exposure to PFOA has been linked to a range of health risks including kidney cancer, immune system issues and developmental problems in fetuses.

The World Health Organization long ago confirmed that PFOA is a “probable human carcinogen.”

Yet, PFOA and its “safer” replacement, GenX, are still not regulated by the federal government.

“Kicking the can further down the road”

Just this month, under pressure from Congress, the EPA released an “action plan” for dealing with long-lasting, pervasive PFAS contamination of our drinking water.

Called a “non-plan” by environmental experts, the EPA plan focuses on PFOS and PFOA, two chemicals that have already been phased out by manufacturers but remain in our water supplies.

By the end of this year (that’s more than eight months from now), the EPA will “propose a regulatory determination” PFOS and PFOA as the next step toward establishing limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Exactly how many steps does it take to say, “This stuff is poison and we have to control it?”

“It has taken the EPA nearly a year to just kick the can even further down the road,” says Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, who serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“While EPA acts with the utmost urgency to repeal regulations, the agency ambles with complacency when it comes to taking real steps to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe.”

Wait… that’s their JOB, isn’t it?

Sorry, I don’t have more encouraging news.

What to do in the meantime

Even once PFAS chemicals are regulated, that doesn’t remove them from the water and air they’ve already pervaded. Not to mention our bodies.

Still, here are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Know where these chemicals live. Teflon pans. Fast food wrappers. Microwave popcorn bags. Chinese takeout boxes or any containers lined with a smooth, shiny coating.

Check the labels on your personal care products, too. Dental floss, shaving cream, nail polish, moisturizers and eye makeup that include the words fluoro or perfluoro on the label are contaminated.

Check your area’s water supply. The Environmental Working Group has created an interactive, county-by-county map to show areas where drinking water has been found unsafe.

Use the right filter. Use a reverse osmosis filter on your taps. Carbon filters won’t reliably remove PFOA. Only a reverse osmosis filter can remove already dissolved particles.

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  1. Pressured by Congress, EPA moves to limit highly toxic chemicals found in drinking waterLos Angeles Times
  2. PFOA, PFOS, and PFAS: What You Need to Know — SimpleWater
  3. GenX8eFilings — Dupont Haskell Global Centers for Health and Environmental Sciences
  4. The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst NightmareThe New York Times
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.