‘Forever chemicals’ found in drinking water across Kentucky
By Ryan Van Velzer | WFPL | November 21, 2019
Read full article by Ryan Van Velzer (WFPL)
“Half of all the public drinking water systems tested in a new report from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet are showing evidence of PFAS contamination…
Researchers found the highest levels and the highest rates of detection in drinking water systems that pulled from waters connected to the Ohio River. State officials say that’s most likely because of the amount of industry near the waterway. In Louisville, researchers detected three PFAS compounds at two different water treatment plants, according to the report.
In most cases, the concentrations were far below the health advisory limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, but those limits are currently under review and several states are calling for significantly lower standards.
If nothing else, the frequency with which these so-called ‘forever chemicals’ are appearing in Kentucky and elsewhere demonstrate the need for further testing, according to state and environmental officials…
In total, they found PFAS in 41 of the 81 water treatment plants sampled. Together those plants serve about half of Kentucky’s population.
In about 82 percent of those samples, researchers found levels under five parts per trillion. That means for every trillion molecules of drinking water, there are only five molecules of PFAS compounds. That’s far below the EPA’s advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.
‘What I would tell [the public] is based on the current state of science and the numbers that we have that their drinking water is below a level determined by the EPA to be safe for lifetime consumption,’ Hatton said…
Right now, Kentucky, like much of the country, has no reporting requirements for PFAS compounds and no discharge limits into watersheds like the Ohio River…
Researchers found the highest levels of contamination in Eastern Kentucky along the Ohio River in South Shore.
There officials detected PFOS and PFOA at 42.1 parts per trillion in the drinking water. The EPA health advisory recommends combining the numbers for both PFOS and PFOA, though it doesn’t mention other chemicals.
But if you were to add the other PFAS compounds found in the water in South Shore, that number would reach 65.67 parts per trillion, which is just shy of the EPA’s standard…
About a dozen states have passed or are considering much stricter health standards for these chemicals, according to the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators. New Hampshire and New Jersey have adopted standards ranging from 12 to 18 parts per trillion. New York is considering limiting levels to just 10 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences suggests that safe levels of PFAS chemicals are as low as .1 to 1 parts per trillion.
Peter Goodmann, Division of Water Director, said residents can remove PFAS compounds using reverse osmosis, or can remove most compounds using an activated carbon filter.
State officials say overall, the news for Kentucky is encouraging. The Energy and Environment Cabinet said it plans to continue testing for PFAS compounds and has a strategy in place moving forward.
‘It’s a remarkable logistical accomplishment for our staff,’ Goodmann said, ‘and they did it.'”
This content provided by the PFAS Project.