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Scientist: An ‘alarming level’ of PFAS compounds found in some Florida drinking water

In Florida, the latest drinking water results show an “alarming level” of PFAS compounds at the Orangewood Water System in Holiday and in the city of Pembroke Pines.

Toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS are now reported to have affected the drinking water of 26 million people in hundreds of U.S. communities so far.

PFAS is a term that stands for a large family of chemicals that have a unifying feature: a carbon-fluorine bond. It’s incredibly strong, which has led to some of its widespread use in everything from fast food wrappers, to the coatings on tools to electronics.

“There's actually been a thousand different chemicals approved for industrial use in the United States that would be considered a PFAS chemical, but it's also the unique chemistry that enables these chemicals not to break down in the environment. That's why they've been called forever chemicals,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group.

PFAS health effects

He said there is no safe level of exposure of PFAS for people due to health concerns.

“PFAS are unique in their ability to cause harm throughout the body. In part this is because PFAS has a strong affinity to blood, and it can be distributed throughout our bodies,” Andrews said.

“Studies have shown strong links and high level of certainty that it causes harm to thyroids, increased cholesterol level, reduced birth weight, as well as a number of types of cancer, including testicular and kidney cancer. And actually, recent studies have shown that at very low concentration … these chemicals are impacting the immune system and actually reducing the effectiveness of vaccines.”