Clean drinking water is a luxury many of us take for granted in our day-to-day lives. However, even around the United States, some places still don't have clean, safe water at their disposal. A hidden threat in unsafe water is the subject of a new ruling by the Biden Administration, and one area of Michigan is at risk.


A glass full of water.
Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash


The Dangers of PFAS

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established the first-ever nationwide drinking water standard, with a $1 billion investment to combat PFAS in drinking water. If you're like me, you may be wondering what PFAS is. Polyfluoroalykl Substances, also known as 'forever chemicals', find their way into drinking water and are harmful to anyone who consumes them. There are five kinds of PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA. These tend to come from manufactured goods.


Photo by Documerica on Unsplash
Photo by Documerica on Unsplash


The news release from the EPA claims it has been linked to "deadly cancers, impacts to the liver and heart, and immune and developmental damage to infants and children." The EPA says people are usually exposed via:


  • Working in occupations such as firefighting or chemicals manufacturing and processing.
  • Drinking water contaminated with PFAS.
  • Eating certain foods that may contain PFAS, including fish.
  • Swallowing contaminated soil or dust
  • Breathing air containing PFAS
  • Using products made with PFAS or that are packed in materials containing PFAS.


For a full list of where PFAS can be found, see the bottom of the article. The full extent of PFAS is not known at this time. PFAS in large quantities or overtime is cause for concern, trace amounts not so much.


Kalamazoo's Worries

The EPA has released a new map detailing areas around the country where water systems exceed the new federal limits, and one city in Michigan has been flagged. Kalamazoo, according to the new standards, is reportedly 60% over the limit. The report says that 3 of the 65 tests came back over the limit. While that may seem statistically small, it is important to note.


EPA / USA Today


What This Means For Kalamazoo

Any location that has been flagged for PFAS levels must implement new solutions to reduce the PFAS levels in their drinking water within five years. You can get your water tested, or install in-home water treatment filters.


Where PFAS "Forever Chemicals" Can Be Found

These are the common places where PFAS can be found, according to the EPA. Information is found here.

Gallery Credit: Tommy McNeill


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