Two families of toxic industrial chemicals have shown up in the sources of water local utilities deliver to area households, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington DC-based organization.
California Water Service Group spokeswoman Yvonne Kingman said the company stopped using the well where the chemicals were detected in 2016, two years after the sample was taken. Kingman said the well in Oroville is only used for firefighting or when its system drawing water from the Feather River’s west branch is off-line.
The compounds, called PFOA and PFOS have been linked by the Environmental Protection Agency to kidney and testicular cancer, liver damage, thyroid problems, compromised immune systems and developmental damage to fetuses.
State water officials said the chemicals easily penetrate soils and reach ground water.
The EPA has set a lifetime health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion in drinking water. Readings collected by utilities at the behest of state officials found levels at one CalWater well in Chico and another in Oroville at 168 percent and 642 percent of EPA’s limit respectively. The levels were detected before treatment.
The Environmental Working Group maintains that the federal limit is set far too high to protect public health.
“We do know they’re in the blood of nearly every single person tested in the United States because the CDC has been testing for a decade now.” Chief Scientist Dr. David Andrews.
PFOA and PFOS are used in Teflon, grease and stain resistant clothing, as well as packaging, firefighting foam and other products. Andrews, who called the proliferation of the chemicals a crisis, said it highlights a failure of the nation’s regulatory process of reacting to problems rather than assuring product safety prior to being approved for sale.
Levels below the EPA limit were also detected in source water used by the Friendly Acres Mobile Home Park in Red Bluff, Keefer Creek Estates Mutual, and one well each serving Redding and Anderson.