US drinking water is a "toxic soup" of "forever chemicals"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/22/us-drinking-water-is-a-toxic.html

The “forever chemical” headline reads a bit alarmist at first glance, but this shit is really nasty

given the “forever chemical” property of PFASs (serum elimination half-life 4–5 years) and widespread environmental contamination, molecules have been shown to accumulate in humans to such a degree that adverse health outcomes have resulted

see also: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas

Remember when BPA landed on the shit-list? That stuff didn’t bio-accumulate to nearly the same extent this does.

Better living through chemistry

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We’re all lab rats living under a chemical safety regime that presumes safety until a concern is brought up (in contrast to the European precautionary model that mandates safety testing before mass exposure). BPA is a great example; while a lot of products now proudly label themselves BPA-free, there’s zero guarantee that they don’t have a nasty cousin of BPA lurking within.

I want a mass spectrometer for home use.

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Maybe.

I read your link. Causes probs in animal studies. Didn’t chase down the dosages used, but the findings in humans are “limited”. Epidemiological studies suggest the major effect is an increase in cholesterol levels in “exposed” populations. At the same time, they also say everyone has been exposed.

They do not mention exposure levels of the “exposed” populations, do not talk about dose-response in humans. There may well be something there, but there is no way to tell if it is anything to worry about.

=> Not saying we should not end their use, limit exposure, etc. Just saying that animal effects and epidemiological associations do not necessarily translate into something “nasty” or that our drinking water is a “toxic soup”. It’s the dose that makes the poison.

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Welcome to America, don’t drink the water.

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… and don’t breathe the air.

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Upon what data does EWG make this recommendation? This group has routinely put out scare articles backed by misleading or made up science, and is a mouthpiece of the anti-vaccine movement.

In 2009 they put out a “study” on toxic drinking water and used data from ground water samples, not treated tap water.

Do you want to know more?

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I figured a persistent “forever chemical” would generally have to be largely unreactive by definition.

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It’s important to keep an open mind. The toxic result of American experiments in chemical engineering may or may not contain the bullet with my name on it, or yours. And the same kind of statistical likelihoods apply to the problems of global warming, for that matter. It might not be newly thawed diseases, or flooding, or plankton shutting down, that does me in.

Instead, I look at the statistical likelihoods of “business as usual”, choosing to continue to do it the way we always have. And the chances of getting away with such a strategy without paying an unacceptable price seem vanishingly small.

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Thanks! Now I know more, particularly about CORE, the parent org of the source you cited.

“The organization has been critical of organizations including the Centers for Disease Control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.[2]”

Finally, someone is taking on the CDC!

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Something smells fishy. They are against the CDC and also against anti-vaxxers?

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I don’t know about this article. The first thing i did was a simple google search for my home city, Portland, OR and PFAS and there’s a detailed page from the Portland Water Bureau showing that it’s never been detected in Portland’s water source. Kind of makes me wonder about the whole article if it fails my first check.

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and are there great water filters that can sift out this stuff?

I’m not saying you are right or wrong in your initial assessment, just that CORE and it’s founder seem to be vile indeed.

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Perhaps you should read the Activist Facts listings for other organizations before acting like they are anything other than a rightwing mouthpiece. It describes the Sierra Club as a path to radicalism, the AMA as too focused on politics for considering alcohol a drug, but the Federalist society is just a group of people dedicated to the separation of powers.

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Polymer fume fever or fluoropolymer fever, also informally called Teflon flu, is an inhalation fever caused by the fumes released when polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, known under the trade name Teflon) reaches temperatures of 300 °C (572 °F) to 450 °C (842 °F).[1] When PTFE is heated above 450 °C the pyrolysis products are different and inhalation may cause acute lung injury.[2] Symptoms are flu-like (chills, headaches and fevers) with chest tightness and mild cough. Onset occurs about 4 to 8 hours after exposure to the pyrolysis products of PTFE. A high white blood cell count may be seen and chest x-ray findings are usually minimal.

The polymer fumes are especially harmful to certain birds whose breathing, optimized for rapidity, allows toxins which are excluded by human lungs. Fumes from Teflon in very high heat are fatal to parrots,[3] as well as some other birds (PTFE toxicosis).

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Yes, although some ‘bstances affect living things without undergoing any chemical reaction (notably asbestos and carbon monoxide). So there’s that.

But if all you knew was that something was very stable, if anything, that suggests less danger; it certainly doesn’t imply “toxic soup”.

Adding foreign substances to the ecosystem is never good, and can be bad, so that’s reason enough not to do it. But wanting to avoid harm from fluoroalkanes is not proof that they actually cause harm, any more than the existence of fire escapes indicate that a building is on fire. I don’t think we need to freak out.

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Last year’s “Dark Waters,” a passion project produced and starring Mark Ruffalo, is well worth seeing. It is a based-on-a-true-story tale about a corporate lawyer who does a favor for a farm family in his mother’s home town. The farmer’s cattle begin dying horribly after DuPont opens a waste dump nearby.

A good legal drama and environmental detective story.

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