There's a 60 Percent Chance This Toxin Is in Your Water, Study Finds

You might be drinking a chemical that could affect your health in harmful ways.

circle

Many people would revolt at the idea of putting toxic chemicals in or near their bodies. The problem is, a lot of these toxins are not so obvious. In fact, they can be hidden in items you use every day. According to new research, most Americans may have the toxin PFAS in their drinking water. Read on to find out how this could affect your health, and for more toxins to avoid, find out which Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic.

One study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters on Oct. 14, found that toxic chemicals may be far more prevalent in drinking water than previously thought. The researchers estimated that more than 200 million Americans could have per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their drinking water at a concentration of 1 part per trillion (ppt) or higher.

This means that nearly 60 percent of Americans may have drinking water contaminated with PFAS at higher than 1 ppt. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a safe level for PFAS in drinking water is no more than 1 ppt.

Close up of young man pouring fresh water from kitchen sink. Home interior.
iStock

"We know drinking water is a major source of exposure of these toxic chemicals," Olga Naidenko, PhD, vice president for science investigations at the EWG and a co-author for the study, said in a statement. "This new paper shows that PFAS pollution is affecting even more Americans than we previously estimated. PFAS are likely detectable in all major water supplies in the U.S., almost certainly in all that use surface water."

PFAS are known as "forever chemicals" because they are some of the most persistent toxins known to man and can contaminate everything from drinking water to food, and even personal care products and cosmetics. According to the EWG, they also "build up in our bodies and never break down in the environment." To find out just how PFAS can hurt your health, keep reading. And for more toxic things you may need to worry about, discover Why The FDA Just Recalled 21 Popular Dog Foods.

1
They can hurt your immune system.

an african american woman coughing into her hand
iStock

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), exposure to high levels of PFAS can impact the immune system by reducing antibody responses to vaccines. This can also "reduce infectious disease resistance," which is especially concerning during the COVID pandemic. And for more worrying coronavirus news, find out How Lacking This Vitamin Is Putting You at Severe COVID Risk.

2
They can increase your risk of cancer.

an older woman talking to her doctor while in the office
iStock

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on March 4 found that PFAS impact biological functions that could lead to an increased risk of cancer. According to the researchers, this includes, but is not limited to, breast, kidney, prostate, liver, and testicular cancers. And for more cancer facts, These Are the Warning Signs of Throat Cancer You Need to Know.

3
They can increase your cholesterol levels.

iStock

According to the ATSDR, high exposure to PFAS may also increase your cholesterol levels. This notion comes from the research done in a major 2008 study that found a specific PFA, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), was linked to higher levels of cholesterol in 69,000 West Virginians and Ohioans whose drinking water was contaminated by a DuPont manufacturing plant. According to the EWG, this toxin is used by DuPont to make Teflon, food wrappers, and other consumer products. And for more toxic chemicals you may be coming in contact with, learn Why These Two Common Bathroom Products Have Just Been Recalled.

4
They can increase your risk of obesity.

Person with obesity being measured
Shutterstock

A 2018 study published in PLOS Medicine found that people with higher levels of PFAS in their bodies regained more weight after trying to diet than those with lower levels of the toxin. Qi Sun, a professor at the Harvard Chan School and senior author for this study, said in a statement that this research concluded PFAS "might interfere with human body weight regulation and thus contribute to the obesity epidemic." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
Filed Under
 •
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE