In addition to contaminating drinking water systems which serve an estimated 19 million Americans, PFAS are also now making their way into the US food supply.
In June, the FDA publicly acknowledged the initial findings of its investigation into how these toxic chemicals made their way into food.
The results of the FDA investigation were initially presented by the agency in Helsinki at the 29th annual European meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. According to CNN, images of the FDA's presentation were first obtained by the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund and published by the Environmental Working Group. The FDA has since confirmed the validity of the images and presented the findings on a newly updated FDA website about PFAS.
On the agency's website, the FDA said that "due to potential health concerns related to these chemicals, the FDA is working to better understand the potential dietary exposure to PFAS."
One of the sites tested by the FDA was a dairy farm near a US Air Force Base where firefighting foams containing PFAS have previously been used. Area water samples taken there tested 35 times greater than the current US Environmental Protection Agency health advisory of 70 parts per trillion.
The researchers also analyzed 13 samples from the dairy farm, including water, animal feed and five milk samples, and found that all of the samples had detectable levels of PFAS chemically similar to what was used in firefighting foams. According to the agency, the samples were "determined to be a human health concern and all milk from the farm was discarded."
Particularly problematic is the fact that the toxic chemicals can remain in the cows long after they have stopped being exposed to the PFAS contaminated water or feed. According to the FDA, just 30 days of eating and drinking contaminated food and water would require 1.5 years for a cow to get all of the chemicals out of its system.
Produce samples from farms close to a PFAS manufacturing plant were also analyzed by the FDA, and of the 20 produce samples tested, 15 showed detectable levels of PFAS. According to the agency, though, "samples were determined not likely to be a human health concern."
"Measuring PFAS concentrations in food, estimating dietary exposure and determining the associated health effects is an emerging area of science," the agency's website said. "FDA scientists are at the forefront of developing new and more sensitive testing methods to measure low levels of PFAS in foods, and we are working with states to build capacity for local testing laboratories."
To that end, this year the FDA formed an internal workgroup and says it is "committed to engaging with consumers, industry and other federal, state and local government partners in this process."
Hopefully the FDA will find ways to reduce the ubiquity of PFAS in our food and water, but in the meantime, water treatment products are the best way to stay safe. To help customers pay for their water treatment solutions, contact Aqua Finance today.