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‘Forever chemicals’ found in some Thurston well-water –
Get your own well water tested!

Tumwater falls and the former Olympia Brewing plant, which closed its doors in 2003. The beer built its reputation on the region’s artesian springs, using the tagline “It’s the Water.” But in the past several years, some water sources in the area have been found to be contaminated with PFAS, once-common chemicals that don’t easily break down, can travel long distances from their source, and have been shown to cause negative health effects. Credit: Andy Engelson for Crosscut, via The JOLT News.

‘Forever chemicals’ in Washington’s well water could make you sick

These are linked to ailments from high cholesterol to cancer are in our clearest aquifers — but steep costs pose cleanup challenges.

Excerpt from The JOLT News:

Recently, tests have revealed that several wells in Tumwater are contaminated with PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

These are a class of water-resistant human-made chemicals used in a wide variety of products from rain jackets to Teflon pans to firefighting foam. These so-called “forever chemicals” don’t break down easily in the environment and have been found to have negative health impacts that include higher cholesterol, decreased immune response, thyroid disease and increased risks of kidney and testicular cancer.

It’s a nationwide problem – a U.S. Geological Survey report in 2023 estimated that nearly half of the nation’s drinking water may contain PFAS. Even some Washington state water systems with a reputation for high-quality water aren’t immune.

“I’ve been spoiled,” said Paul Grant, a resident of the Lazy Acres neighborhood in Tumwater, which is served by Thurston PUD, noting his water has always “tasted great.” In 2021, tests revealed that two wells serving 94 households in the community were over the state’s acceptable levels for PFAS. “I’m definitely concerned,” Grant said, noting that he temporarily switched to bottled water and is talking to his landlord about installing a filtration system.

According to the latest data from the Washington State Department of Health, 30 public water utility sites across the state currently contain PFAS over the state action level, which requires utilities to create plans to remove or treat the source if possible.The state regulates five PFAS chemicals, and the two most common, PFOA and PFOS, are limited to 10 parts per trillion and 15 parts per trillion respectively – equivalent to less than a drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Barry Rogowski, toxics cleanup manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology, said the challenge of addressing PFAS contamination statewide is equal to the scale of widespread solvent contamination from dry-cleaning shops and industrial sites in the 1990s. “This is as significant as anything that we’ve seen in the last 30 years,” Rogowski said. “The problem with PFAS is they travel very rapidly, and in great distance in groundwater – much more so than some other compounds like gasoline or solvents.” PFAS chemicals were used extensively because they’re so slippery and water-repellent – properties that made them great for Gore-Tex jackets but unfortunately also make them widespread and difficult to clean up.

Posted by Steve on February 16, 2024 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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One comment

  1. A ZERO WATER FILTER available either at Walmart or through Amazon or other will remove these chemicals It is under $60 and for $60 more you can get 2extra filter cartridges. It has been tested at one of the best labs in the world and equals filters costing many times more. Small enough to also be portable Tampa Fla is now creating the first large scale treatment plant for this using SIX tech same as these small filters

    Comment by Thomas Guitarman on February 19, 2024 at 9:03 pm

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