Study Shows Drinking Tap Water Could Have A Dangerous Effect On Your Health

The next time you head to the sink for a glass of water, think again. According to a 2023 study in Environment International, at least one per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) was found to be in almost half the water samples tested by the United States Geological Survey. Also known as "forever chemicals," PFAS are chemicals found in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpets, and some cosmetics, among other things, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. They find their way into the soil and water sources and eventually our bodies.

The study tested samples from more than 700 locations, including 269 private wells and 447 public water sources. Some water sources had up to nine PFAS. Cities and areas close to manufacturing plants had the most contamination, and areas along the Eastern United States, Great Lakes, and the Great Plains saw some of the highest concentrations of PFAS.

PFAS can be harmful to your health

The Environmental Protection Agency says that there are thousands of PFAS in many of our household products or their packaging. Although your exposure to PFAS might be low, some people might be more exposed to PFAS if they work in manufacturing or processing plants that produce PFAS. Because PFAS are found in fire extinguishing foam, firefighters might also have higher concentrations of PFAS in their systems.

Because PFAS are so prevalent in our environment, researchers find it difficult to isolate the effects of PFAS on our health. Most of the research focuses on certain PFAS that are better known. What researchers do know is that PFAS can affect fertility in women or cause delays in a child's development. PFAS have also been linked to certain types of cancers, such as prostate, testicular, and kidney cancers. Researchers also believe that PFAS weaken our immune system and disrupt the hormones in our bodies. Finally, PFAS might also increase cholesterol and the risk of obesity.