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Toxic “eternal chemicals” in tap water cast doubt on scientists

Natalia Soares Quinete of FIU and her lab students are one of the first to measure the local distribution and levels of these pollutants known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) in South Florida.Credits: Florida International University

Some chemicals found in tap and surface waters in South Florida belong to a group of pollutants of concern that can pose serious health risks to humans and wildlife.


Scientists at the FIU Environmental Research Institute are one of the first companies to measure the local distribution and levels of these pollutants known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS). The levels found were lower than the standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but these limits do not take into account the new PFAS.

About 30 PFASs Found on Taps in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach water, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Highest concentration detected in samples collected near Hollywood International Airport. PFAS was also detected in Biscayne Bay and nearby tributary canals.

“We don’t want to surprise or upset people,” said Natalia Soares Kinete, an assistant professor of chemistry at FIU. “Our goal is to provide long-awaited data on the current state of our water so that people can recognize these pollutants and know where they come from. “

PFAS contains thousands of different artificial chemicals used primarily in industrial and consumer products. They are found in everything from fast food packages, non-stick cookware, waterproof cosmetics, clothing, glue, fire extinguishing foam and more. Known as an “eternal chemical,” PFAS is problematic because it accumulates in water, air, and soil over time and is also found in human blood.

It is known that these chemicals affect reproduction, human development, immune system function, interfere with vaccine effectiveness, and cause liver and kidney damage, as the human body can also accumulate PFAS. Has been done.

The United States has phased out the production of two particularly harmful PFAS (PFOS and PFOA) after being associated with adverse health effects. In addition, the EPA has set a health recommendation level for tap water of 70 ppt when these two specific PFASs are combined. The PFOA and PFOS levels in this study did not exceed the EPA limits, but were still included in 97% of drinking water samples.

Quinete points out that the EPA’s health advisory restrictions do not take into account many other new PFASs that are still in use today. Many can be toxic in very small amounts — as low as a trillionth.

The average total PFAS level she found in tap water was 86.3 ppt. A total of 242 ppt was found in tap water collected in the Grapeland Heights area near Miami International Airport. Fort Lauderdale-A few miles from Hollywood International Airport, Dania Beach had the second highest PFAS concentration of 124 ppt.

Total PFAS levels were low (mean 57.7 ppt) in tap water samples collected in the Key Biscayne, Kendal, Cutler Bay, and Princeton areas. West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, and Boca Raton also had low average total PFAS concentrations of only 40.3 ppt.

The most predominant PFAS in tap water in South Florida was PFBA. Previous studies have shown that it accumulates in the lungs and affects the immune system. However, it is currently regulated only in Minnesota.

In addition to drinking water tests, Quinete and her lab students also collected water from Biscayne Bay and the adjacent canals. The average total amount of PFAS was 46.3 ppt. Levels were not as high as drinking water, but the bay is already facing other pollution problems and the amount of PFAS pollution is a concern.

“We need to create a complete picture of all types of pollutants present in Biscayne Bay, especially PFAS,” says Quinete. “These specific pollutants can affect animal health, cause neurological and developmental problems, and even interfere with reproduction, which can lead to actual damage.”

Quinete is more about the outbreak of PFAS in South Florida, especially whether the findings are in the source of PFAS in drinking water and in the Everglades, one of Florida’s major sources of aquifers. It raises the question of, and states that further investigation is needed. Drinking water for 8 million Florida people.

As one of the few South Florida researchers using PFAS, Quinete investigates this and many more questions to develop guidelines and procedures for controlling and reducing PFAS in Florida. Gather the data you need.

“PFAS has not been extensively studied here, and there are few studies on the distribution and development of PFAS in South Florida,” Quinete said. “Our goal is to provide the information needed to come up with possible solutions and new regulations and start removing or removing them from the environment.”

Survey results published in Comprehensive environmental science..


EPA plans new strategy for PFAS “Eternal Chemicals”


For more information:
Xuerong Li et al, Evaluation of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Surface and Tap Water in Biscayne Bay, South Florida, Comprehensive environmental science (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.scitotenv.2021.150393

Quote: Toxic “eternal chemicals” found in tap water, scientists obtained on October 19, 2021 from https: //phys.org/news/2021-10-toxic-chemicals-scientists.html Ask a question (October 19, 2021)

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Toxic “eternal chemicals” in tap water cast doubt on scientists

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