Public health

New Analysis Shows Widespread PFAS Contamination of Tap Water in CA

Credit: Brian Maranan Pineda for NRDC

Estimate of Californians with PFAS in drinking water jumps to 25 million – highlights need for proposed bill SB 903 to end unnecessary use of forever chemicals.

Toxic “forever” PFAS chemicals are a serious environmental health issue in California and across the globe, linked to numerous health harms. California has been a leader in addressing PFAS, including banning PFAS use in multiple products (such as fire-fighting foam and textiles). Yet PFAS continue to be used in hundreds of different consumer and industrial products and our new analysis, released today, shows drinking water sources serving up to 25 million Californians are or have been contaminated with PFAS. 

bill by Senator Nancy Skinner, also introduced today, proposes a much needed comprehensive, efficient, and health-protective approach to phasing out the use of these highly problematic chemicals. Such preventative legislation will be key to helping to address the PFAS crisis. We also need to tackle current contamination by setting drinking water standards for PFAS.

What are PFAS

PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals that are used because they provide temperature resistance and nonstick, stain proof, and greaseproof properties to a variety of consumer and industrial products. Due to their widespread use and release into the environment, virtually all of us have one or more PFAS in our blood

This is alarming because exposure to PFAS is associated with a range of harmful health effects including kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, changes in hormone levels, and harmful effects on the liver, kidneys, and immune, nervous, and reproductive systems.

New data on widespread contamination of California drinking water

California has been monitoring drinking water sources for PFAS, including those near potential contamination sites like landfills, wastewater treatment plant discharge points, oil and gas facilities, metal plating facilities, and airports. In 2021, NRDC published a report that analyzed the initial data from this monitoring program, with a particular focus on data related to drinking water in overburdened communities. These investigations revealed that PFAS pollution in California is widespread throughout the state, but more prevalent in communities already overburdened by multiple sources of pollution and by other factors that make them more sensitive to pollution, putting those vulnerable communities at greater risk of harm from PFAS exposure. 

Today, we updated our analysis to include testing results from 2019 to 2023. New data show that PFAS have […]

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