New WV Study Shows Action Required to Protect West Virginians Health from Forever Chemicals 

A new West Virginia report showing the presence of per- and polyflouroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been made available to the public. The report detected PFAS in the drinking water supplies of 67 public water systems in West Virginia. This report comes on the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issuing new drinking water health advisories for four PFAS, specifying the levels toxic to public health. 

In light of this news, WV Rivers has developed resources for West Virginians on PFAS in our water supplies. Learn more.

The West Virginia study on PFAS in drinking water supplies is the result of a legislative resolution in 2020, SCR 46. Clusters of high PFAS levels were found along the Ohio River and in the Eastern Panhandle. Samples at 37 public water system sources greatly exceeded the EPA’s health advisories for two types of PFAS — PFOA and PFOS.  

PFAS, commonly known as “forever chemicals,” are man-made toxic compounds that do not break down in the environment.  

They are found in everyday products like non-stick pans, firefighting foam, waterproof clothing, food packaging, and even dental floss. There are as many as 10,000-12,000 known PFAS; about 600 are currently used in the United States.

“The EPA health advisories tell us that any detectable amount of PFOS or PFOA in drinking water signifies danger,” said Angie Rosser, executive director at West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “Treatment to remove PFAS from drinking water is a necessary immediate step to protect our citizens. We can’t just rely on treatments. Agencies must take aggressive steps to control and reduce the use and release of these dangerous substances at their source.” 

Jenna Dodson, staff scientist at West Virginia Rivers Coalition, echoes the urgency to control PFAS discharges into water. “We know chemical manufacturers are discharging PFAS into our waterways, and sometimes even exceeding their permit limits,” said Dodson, referring to Chemours Washington Works Plant which reported three discharge exceedances in May of this year.   

The Ohio River Valley has a long history of PFAS contamination. A river wide study by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) studied PFAS presence and detected multiple types at every sampling site.  

 “Sadly, West Virginians already know just how dangerous these chemicals are to our health and wellbeing,” said Heather Sprouse, Ohio River Coordinator for West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “The state must hold polluters accountable and take swift action to prevent further contamination.” 

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