An investigation, carried out by Consumer Reports in association with The Guardian, has revealed that there are alarming levels of contamination in water consumed across the U.S. In the investigation, more than 120 samples of water were tested for arsenic, lead and PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances), among other contaminants.

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The water in question serves more than 19 million people nationwide. In their investigation, researchers found 118 of the 120 samples of water had some form of contamination, with concerning levels of PFAS across the board. Most of the samples contained pollutants above the levels recommended by Consumer Reports.

Related: Consumer Reports finds high arsenic level in Whole Foods bottled water

From their findings, more than 35% of the samples had potentially toxic levels of PFAS, according to Consumer Reports’ recommendations. Further, the researchers found 8% of samples to contain arsenic at alarming levels. The 118 contaminated samples were all found to contain lead, another high-risk chemical. The biggest concern to the investigators was the high level of PFAS found in almost all samples of water tested. PFAS is a group of chemicals that has been linked to many health risks, including delayed learning in children and the possibility of causing cancer, among others.

When asked to comment on the findings, Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Andrea Drinkard said that about 93% of the U.S. population has community water that constantly meets set health standards. The agency has standards in place for more than 90 compounds, including lead and arsenic. But there are no standards in place for PFAS, which are also commonly known as “forever chemicals.”

While there may be standards in place, the new findings show that there is a missing link between what is on paper and the reality.

“Americans shouldn’t have to navigate bureaucracy and be forced to make significant investments in order to access clean tap water,” said Brian Ronholm, directory of food policy at Consumer Reports.

There have been several attempts to address the issue of old water supply pipes, which are the main cause of pollutants like lead. Congress is also currently focusing on PFAS, with a task force formed in January urging President Joe Biden to take action against these chemicals.

Task force member and congresswoman Debbie Dingell said, “We do not have any time to waste as we battle these toxic chemicals.”

Via The Guardian

Image via Karolina Grabowska