Drinking water systems serving at least six million Americans have shown levels of C8 and other similar chemicals higher than a health advisory issued earlier this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a new study published Tuesday by researchers from Harvard University and several other institutions and groups.
The study, though, cautions that another 44.5 million Americans rely on private wells that generally have not been sampled for these chemicals and another 52 million residents are served by small drinking water systems that are rarely sampled. And, the study further warns, studies continue to strongly suggest that exposure to these chemicals can make people sick, even at or below the concentration recommended as acceptable under the EPA health advisory.
“The EPA advisory limit … is much too high to protect us against toxic effects on the immune system,” said study co-author Dr. Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health. “And the available water data only reveals the tip of the iceberg of contaminated drinking water.”
The study, published in the peer-review journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, comes amid growing new attention for the potential threats from C8 and similar chemicals in the months following their discovery in water systems in New York and Vermont — a development that has driven political and media focus on the issue as residents near a DuPont Co. plant in Wood County, West Virginia, have waited for years for EPA to publish its new guidance.