Texas fared better than other states in a survey of potentially-toxic chemicals in drinking water, but the group behind the research says the chemicals may be more widespread than what’s been reported.
The Environmental Working Group has put out a nationwide map of where fluoridated chemicals have been in found in drinking water, as documented in part by the Environmental Protection Agency.
These chemicals have been used to make everything from clothes to cooking pans. Companies started phasing them out in the early 2000’s, though some are still around.
Bill Walker, Managing Editor for the group behind the survey, argues the EPA’s reporting requirements are too high.
“There may be lots of contamination out there that didn’t meet their threshold, but nonetheless is at the level that the best science says is actually problematic,” he says.
When contamination gets above 70 parts per trillion, drinking water managers are supposed to notify the state and follow up. Only Port Lavaca and Abilene made the list in Texas. According to this survey, the highest level found in the state was 51 parts per trillion.
“The levels that are set by the EPA or the state, we feel that in a lot of cases they’re just truly not fully protective of public health,” Walker says.
The EPA says most people have been exposed to these chemicals, but in small amounts. While the environmental group points to studies suggesting that’s still a problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the effects of low-level exposure are unknown, and more research is needed.
By Travis Bubenik, Energy & Environmental Reporter for the Houston Public Media