Over 2,800 American Cities Have Toxins in Their Drinking Water


Yes I know that is an extreme headline.  But it is not clickbait.  It is cold reality.

‘Ticking time bomb’: Toxic chemicals found in drinking water of nearly 2,800 US cities

Why bury the lede?

The chemicals referred to as PFAS, widely known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment, have links to liver damage, high cholesterol, weakened immune systems and cancer, scientists said.

“They basically fulfill the characteristics of a ticking time bomb,” said Dr. Bo Guo, a University of Arizona hydrologist and expert on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are commonly used in hundreds of consumer products and in firefighting foams, a top source of PFAS contamination.

“They’re very dangerous and they’re migrating very slowly,” Guo said of the heat-resistant chemicals.

In fact, why drag this out any further before we declare a critical emergency and immediately spring to action?  Let us start with the nice folks in Illinois.  In fact let’s talk about Chicagoland specifically, one of my favorite places on earth.  A place I have spent much time, with friends that have been decades long, a place that embodies the blue collar Democratic spirit.

Scientists call the chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. They are commonly known as forever chemicals because they don’t break down in the environment. Despite plenty of warning signs, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency didn’t begin testing the state’s water utilities for PFAS until August 2020. Then state and local officials downplayed the results, burying notices filled with technical jargon on government websites.

Until now the scope of PFAS problems in Illinois remained unknown. More than 8 million people in the state — 6 out of every 10 Illinoisans — get their drinking water from a utility where at least one forever chemical has been detected, according to a Chicago Tribune investigation that included a computerized analysis of test results and a review of court documents, government records and scientific studies.

While NASDAQ does its belly dance, and pundits try to predict the midterms, a massive human crisis is unfolding on our shores, in that tens of millions of Americans have been exposed to toxins in their drinking water.  Many of us do try to avoid drinking from the tap.  So once again, an ignored public health risk is hurting communities of color, like those in Flint, in much greater numbers.  Like reproductive autonomy, like gun violence, like Covid, communities of color are suffering disproportionately.

PFAS have been confirmed in the drinking water of nearly 3,000 communities and are likely to be in the drinking water of more than 200 million Americans. And studies suggest that communities with environmental justice concerns are disproportionately harmed by PFAS, who will be further harmed by any delay in cleaning up. Specifically:

  • Using California’s environmental justice screening tool, scientists were able to determine that low-income, people of color and indigenous communities in California had very high levels of PFAS in their drinking water.
  • An analysis of drinking water in New Jersey found that people of color were more likely to have PFAS detected in their drinking water.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists found that people of color were more likely to live within five miles of a site contaminated with PFAS.

This is obviously a macrocosm of the injustices minority communities face daily.  In Arizona, entire swaths of Guadalupe had to have their doors knocked on to distribute the Covid vaccination, because human beings were afraid of showing up to protect themselves from a deadly pandemic and end up being deported.  For too long “Surbubble” America has swept the problems of inner-city America under the rug, or at least, under the bridges and overpasses.

But turning your back to the problem does not mean the problem does not follow you.  And in some regions, the level of contamination is flatly inhumane.

Researchers estimate Cape Fear residents spent decades drinking water with staggering PFAS levels, exceeding 100,000 parts per trillion (ppt) – far above the federal advisory level in effect since 2016 of 70 ppt for two kinds of PFAS. Some public health groups say no amount above 1 ppt is safe. The EPA recently updated its advisory levels, dramatically reducing the levels considered safe to below 1 ppt.

Low-income residents who can’t afford costly filtration systems, who subsist on fish in the river and who have less access to information are more vulnerable.


As someone whose kidney cancer struggles have been well-documented, I am interested to learn how I developed it.  Did living in the Chicago area, and drinking the refreshing but apparently, toxic water cause it?  Did schlepping through decades of fuel exhaust laden-traffic cause it?  Did Clayton, Missouri’s war on foliage, and their efforts to seemingly ensconce the city in concrete cause it?  I don’t know, and I truly may never know, because there are so many potential toxins in our environment.  But for the purposes of this report, here are the associated cancers known to link with PFAS.



PFAS chemicals, which have turned up in drinking water in cities across the US, have been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and kidney, testicular, prostate, breast, liver, and ovarian cancers. A new study is going one step further to try to explain how some of these PFAS compounds, a family of thousands of synthetic chemicals that have been used for decades in everything from food packaging to nonstick cookware, might cause cancer on a molecular level. This group of chemicals is also prevalent in firefighting foam (Class B) and firefighter PPE (turnout gear); and firefighters have been shown to have a higher incidence than normal of the associated cancers.


Thankfully we have a President that recognizes the issue, and is acting through the EPA.


President Joe Biden has promised to tackle PFAS contamination by regulating the chemicals in drinking water, designating PFAS as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law, stopping government purchasing of some products containing PFAS, and funding additional research into the chemicals.

In March 2021, the EPA announced it would regulate two PFAS – PFOA and PFOS, the two most notorious PFAS chemicals – in drinking water. But it could take years before these regulations are final.

In April, EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the formation of an EPA PFAS Council tasked with identifying agency action priorities within 100 days. The council’s recommendations have not yet been made public.

In total some 2,854 cities across all 50 states are contaminated as seen in this map below.


While it is good news we have a President ready to deal with the issue, we don’t necessarily know for sure the Supreme Court will allow him to.  As most of you know, recently the court acted to severely restrict the agency’s authority to deal with climate change.  I have no idea if cretins that run these toxic factories could just appeal any efforts here, as well.

Still, this is part of the problem overall with our country.  The thing is, we actually do have a President standing up for us.  He actually is taking actions to resolve inequities.  You would think a reasonable headline to expect would be “President Acts to Remove Toxins from Water of Nearly 3,000 Communities.”

What do we get instead?

SCOTUS’ EPA ruling is a small but hopeful sign for economy

The EPA wants to protect our drinking water.  But propaganda propaganda, economy, propaganda, West Virginia, garbley warbley Manchin, ugh.

Now granted, an editorial from the New York Post is about as credible as a cereal commercial educating children about a balanced breakfast, but millions read it nonetheless.

However this goes, whether London bridge literally falls down because of climate change, or we all cook our organs showering in toxins, it will be because we did it to ourselves.  It will be because the dopamine hit elicited by self-delusion became, in a nation of people ill with addiction, our most dangerous vice of all.

So what do we do?  We inform.  I write to get out information.  I ask you to disseminate it, and explain the risks.

You see all I can do is write the truth about our situation.

I just hope to one day master the art of getting people to accept it.


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