In light of national scandal involving high levels of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, officials across the country, including New Jersey, have found it prudent to determine whether similar problems exist in their states. In January, 2016, New Jersey state officials were put on notice of concerns about the toxicity levels in drinking water at a dozen systems across the state. They include the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority; the Raritan, Logan and Pennsgrove systems of New Jersey American; the Montclair Water Bureau; Greenwich Township; Garfield Water Department; Rahway Water Department; Brick Township; Paulsboro Water Department; Orange Water Department; and South Orange Water Department.
According to reports, the level of perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) in the drinking water in these systems is “at or above” guidance levels established by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The problem is not one that is unique to New Jersey, though, as 26 other states have reported problems with PFOA.
Officials say that PFOA are typically found in Teflon pots and pans, carpeting and some clothing, but that, while the use of the chemical has been discontinued, there can still be significant traces in water systems. PFOAs are part of a family of chemicals shown to cause cancer in humans. An EPA spokesman said the chemical has been tied to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis and hypertension.
A Washington, D.C. entity, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has called for stringent regulation of PFOAs, based on research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, which concluded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s tolerance limit for PFOAs is probably twice that which is safe for humans.
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