Forever Chemicals: The Unknown Perils of Drinking Contaminated Water

By Oscarjack 6 Min Read
Forever Chemicals

When you reach out for a glass of water, toxins are the last thing you think about. You only want to quench your thirst, feel energetic, and ensure good hydration. However, you cannot overlook the risk of contamination because water from any source may have pollutants. Even worse, it may contain toxins as lethal as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

These forever chemicals persist in the environment and cause severe health risks to humans. According to a Guardian analysis conducted in 2022, seven of the nine samples of water collected from across the US showed higher levels of PFAS than levels found using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing methods. The concentrations were as much as 24 times greater.

The numbers show how Americans may be drinking toxic water day after day. Unfortunately, many people lack awareness of the dangers posed by forever chemicals. They continue consuming toxic water over the years without realizing its devastating effects.

We will highlight the unknown perils of forever chemicals and drinking water contaminated with them.

Widespread Exposure to Forever Chemicals

The EPA recently estimated that 70-94 million Americans are exposed to drinking water contaminated with harmful levels of forever chemicals. The number may be only the tip of the iceberg, considering that EPA’s calculations are based on regulations covering only six PFAS out of thousands of chemicals.

To combat the danger, the EPA has now developed measures to assess the level of 29 individual PFAS. But the number is still meager because the threat is much bigger, with hundreds of chemicals making their way into the supplies. The magnitude of the water contamination crisis in the US can quickly become impersonal when talking about millions of people exposed to thousands of PFAS.

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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Disaster: A Haunting Tragedy

The Camp Lejeune water contamination disaster is perhaps the most prominent instance of public exposure to forever chemicals. For three decades between the 1950s and 1987, military personnel, their families, and residents of Camp Lejeune were exposed to toxic levels of PFAS. Improper disposal practices by businesses in the area caused the disaster.

According to CDC statistics, nearly one million people have borne the brunt of the exposure, putting them at risk of life-threatening diseases like cancer. TorHoerman Law notes that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is a savior for people who have endured the aftermath of the disaster. They can file an administrative claim to seek financial compensation for their pain and suffering.

Victims need to establish a link between their medical condition and exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to prove their eligibility for compensation. Additionally, they should have spent at least thirty days at the location between 1953 and 1987. The Camp Lejeune settlement amounts depend on the severity of the medical conditions, but it may range between $10,000 and $500,000.

Health Risks of Exposure to Forever Chemicals

Exposure to water containing PFAS has been linked to diverse health issues, many of which are life-threatening. Here is a list of potential health issues associated with drinking water contaminated containing forever chemicals:

  • Organ cancers (bladder, testes, breast, cervix, ovaries, stomach, esophagus, kidney, liver, and lung)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Adult Leukemia
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Renal Toxicity
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Reproductive issues
  • Birth defects and developmental delays
  • Miscarriage
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Some PFAS are toxic enough to cause cancers at even very low levels. Other health issues included weakened immune response and increased cholesterol levels. Prolonged exposure may aggravate the risks and lead to chronic health conditions.

Mitigation and Prevention of Exposure to Waterborne PFAS

The perils of PFAS exposure necessitate efforts to mitigate and prevent it. Steps like research into the health effects of forever chemicals, public awareness, and monitoring programs can go a long way in this context. At the same time, business owners should be forced to follow responsible disposal of products containing PFAS to minimize discharges into the environment.

Dealing with the threat of forever contaminants in drinking water requires the collective efforts of the government, businesses, and the public. Each of them should do their bit to lower the risk and ensure safe drinking water for everyone in the country.

Conclusion

The risk of contaminated drinking water is bigger than you imagine, even in a developed country like the US. The Camp Lejeune disaster spells the gravity of the threat. The incident highlighted the dire consequences of PFAS contamination. It also increased awareness and led to stricter regulations to maintain water quality in the country. As an individual, staying safe is about testing your residential water supplies regularly to ensure their safety and well-being.

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