MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile Area Water & Sewer System has sent out a notice to customers that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been detected in the drinking water “at levels above the new advisories” from the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a release from MAWSS. PFAS have been linked to several health effects, including cancer and developmental effects.
According to a release, the EPA released new lifetime health advisories for four PFAS compounds on June 15. A PFAS compound is defined as “a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s,” and can be found in several products including non-stick cookware, stain-resistant coatings for carpet and upholstery, cosmetics and cleaning products. It is also an ingredient for firefighting foam and is released into the air, soil and water regularly. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down over time.
According to the release, “most people have been exposed to PFAS,” but there are cases where exposure can “lead to adverse health effects.” MAWSS tells its customers who are concerned about the levels to contact your doctor and consider installing a filter on all faucets. Boiling, freezing or letting water sit does not reduce PFAS levels, according to release. The EPA offers other steps you can take to reduce your risk.
MAWSS said they will continue to monitor the levels and share the results through mail and on the website. They also said the new health advisories are “well below what is detectable for current EPA laboratory methods.”
The EPA acknowledges these health advisories reflect levels at which adverse effects may occur but that such results are more likely at higher concentrations. These health advisories are not enforceable by ADEM or the EPA. Detections of PFAS or PFOS are not violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act regulating contaminants within US drinking water systems. The Water Quality Report for 2021 is now available on the MAWSS website. Please visit this report at www.mawss.com.MAWSS
The following are possible health effects of exposure to PFAS:
- Developmental effects, including fetuses after exposure during pregnancy or postnatal development (e.g. low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations, development of the immune system)
- Cancer (e.g. testicular, kidney)
- Liver effects (e.g. cellular lesions)
- Immune effects (e.g. decreased antibody response to vaccination, decreased immune response)
- Thyroid issues and other effects (e.g. cholesterol changes)
MAWSS urges everyone who sees this to pass along to anyone who drinks this water. They said people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses may not have received the notice.