New report shows EPA underestimated the dangers of chemicals in - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New report shows EPA underestimated the dangers of chemicals in drinking water

Posted: Updated:
AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -

A new study released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that perfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, are more dangerous at lower levels than previously thought.

The 852-page study was suppressed by the Trump administration because of the "public relations nightmare" it might cause. 

High levels of these chemicals, which are found in firefighting foam, were detected in the Airway Heights drinking water system last year. The PFAS were found at levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s guideline.

Currently, the EPA guideline for safe levels of PFAS is 70 parts per trillion. But the study says safe levels are 7-10 parts per trillion.

“Scientists' were saying ‘hey that's not protective of all the problems we know are associated’ including immune problems and developmental problems," said Sharon Lerner, who is an environmental reporter for The Intercept. "What it does is it increases the risk for some somewhat rare conditions and other less rare conditions."

Lerner has been studying PFAS chemicals since 2015. She also wrote a 16-part investigative series about the chemicals' impact on the environment. 

“They accumulate in the body and it takes years to get rid of them," said Lerner. "I don't want to alarm people but at the same time I think that scientists who study this closely agree.”

Lerner says health risks for individuals exposed to contaminated water include cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.

The study also describes how daily consumption of low levels of the chemicals appeared to have an effect on rats and mice tested in labs, including delayed eye-opening in newborns and lower body weight, as well as changed to brain activity.

Fairchild Air Force Base says they were not aware of the CDC study until Thursday. They say their focus remains on continuing to test some well systems that are currently above the EPA health advisory level (70 parts per trillion).

You can read more about Lerner’s work HERE.

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Opponents and activists for I-1639 sound off

    Opponents and activists for I-1639 sound off

    Saturday, September 22 2018 9:16 PM EDT2018-09-23 01:16:50 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Initiative-1639 has been the root of controversy ever since supporters began asking for signatures. It became even more complicated when the Washington Supreme Court overturned a Thurston County judges decision after the judge initially threw out over 300,000 signatures saying the petition didn't follow election law claiming it was unreadable. 

    More >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Initiative-1639 has been the root of controversy ever since supporters began asking for signatures. It became even more complicated when the Washington Supreme Court overturned a Thurston County judges decision after the judge initially threw out over 300,000 signatures saying the petition didn't follow election law claiming it was unreadable. 

    More >>
  • Thieves try to break into Mead cemetery again

    Thieves try to break into Mead cemetery again

    Saturday, September 22 2018 8:32 PM EDT2018-09-23 00:32:15 GMT

    MEAD Wash. - Dale Baker takes time out of his busy schedule to make sure the Peone Cemetery in Mead right off of North Bruce Road is well cared for "It's a personal thing to me to volunteer here to keep something up that’s important to everybody in this community," said Volunteer Dale Baker Baker has relatives and friends who are buried in the over 100-year-old cemetery. 

    More >>

    MEAD Wash. - Dale Baker takes time out of his busy schedule to make sure the Peone Cemetery in Mead right off of North Bruce Road is well cared for "It's a personal thing to me to volunteer here to keep something up that’s important to everybody in this community," said Volunteer Dale Baker Baker has relatives and friends who are buried in the over 100-year-old cemetery. 

    More >>
  • Wind topples tree limb, concrete post; 1 killed, 2 injured in Tri-Cities

    Wind topples tree limb, concrete post; 1 killed, 2 injured in Tri-Cities

    Saturday, September 22 2018 7:43 PM EDT2018-09-22 23:43:47 GMT

    RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - High winds toppled a tree limb and a concrete light post at two festivals in the Tri-Cities, killing one woman and sending two other people to a hospital. The Tri-City Herald reports that sustained winds of 18 mph (29 kmh) and gusts of up to 25 mph (40 kph) knocked down a tree limb at Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Faire on Saturday afternoon, killing a woman.  

    More >>

    RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - High winds toppled a tree limb and a concrete light post at two festivals in the Tri-Cities, killing one woman and sending two other people to a hospital. The Tri-City Herald reports that sustained winds of 18 mph (29 kmh) and gusts of up to 25 mph (40 kph) knocked down a tree limb at Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Faire on Saturday afternoon, killing a woman.  

    More >>