Potentially harmful substances detected in Mobile water supply

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – The Mobile Area Water & Sewer System has alerted customers that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, have been found in the drinking water that are “at levels above the new advisories” from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Exposure to PFAS may result in “a wide range of adverse health outcomes,” according to information posted on the MAWSS website.

PFAS chemicals have been called “forever chemicals” because they are extremely persistent, lasting thousands of years.

MAWSS states it will implement routine monitoring for these compounds. The utility also states it will share these results through a public notice mailing, on the MAWSS website and in the July 2023 Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report.

MAWSS is advising customers to contact a doctor or health care professional if concerned about levels of PFAS found in drinking water. The utility further advises customers to consider actions that may reduce their exposure, including installing a home or point of use filter, if possible.

Steps are being implemented to understand concerns fully and potentially regulate PFAS at the national level, according to MAWSS.

The utility informs customers that boiling, freezing or letting water stand does not reduce PFAS levels.

The EPA provides an online document titled Meaningful and Achievable Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk.

According to information from MAWSS, PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS have been found in various consumer products (such as non-stick cookware, stain-resistant coatings for carpet and upholstery, grease-proof food packaging, cosmetics, and cleaning products) and as an ingredient in firefighting foam. PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, airports, and military installations are some contributors to PFAS releases into the air, soil, and water. Because of their widespread use, most people have been exposed to PFAS, and there is evidence that exposure to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.

Most studies tested on doses of PFAS higher than levels found in the environment, MAWSS states on its website, and most studies are on lab animals. Adverse health outcomes revealed by such studies include:

  • Developmental effects, including fetuses after exposure during pregnancy or postnatal development (eg low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations, development of the immune system)
  • Cancer
  • Liver effects
  • Immune effects
  • Thyroid issues and other effects

MAWSS is telling customers with questions regarding PFOA / PFOS or other water quality questions to send emails to water.quality@mawss.com.

FOX10 News is pursuing this developing story and will have more information as available.

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