A recent study conducted by Harvard University has found that the state of Alabama has an absurd amount of chemicals in its water supply. In fact, Alabama has the fourth-highest concentration of chemical-based water contaminants in the nation, trailing behind California, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
This news comes only months after a water advisory was issued in north Alabama as a result of unusually high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs. These chemical substances are man-made and are resistant to both fire and oil; they are often found in household cleaners, in the manufacturing of non-stick cookwear, and in fire-fighting foams.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans are rendered ill by the consumption of contaminated foods or beverages every year. Being on the receiving end of food poisoning can have serious complications, but the effects of PFAS consumption can have dire long-term effects. The ingestion of PFASs has now been linked to birth defects, cancers, obesity, and immune system suppression. Scarier still, the Harvard study found the presence of PFASs in the drinking water of 16.5 million U.S. residents.
A portion of the north Alabama contamination that prompted the original water advisory has since been linked to a Tennessee River-based 3M plant. The company has also been named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by Tennessee Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the river by enforcing environmental laws.
At least 100,000 people in Alabama have been affected by the presence of PFASs, and many are looking for ways to filter out the harmful chemicals. One of the eight Alabama water systems has put a temporary filter plan in place until a permanent filter can be completed in 2019, but even the temporary filter will cost upwards of $4 million to execute.