Home Environment MAWSS releases statement after potentially harmful substances detected in Mobile water supply

MAWSS releases statement after potentially harmful substances detected in Mobile water supply

MAWSS releases statement after potentially harmful substances detected in Mobile water supply


MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A letter sent out by the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System warns customers of a group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS chemicals found in their water, some of them above advised limits.

They said the water from your faucet is safe to drink, but it is something that they’re monitoring. MAWSS released this statement Wednesday night which reads:

“According to the EPA, PFAS, or Poly- and Per-Fluoroalkyl Substances, are a group of synthetic chemicals used in a wide range of consumer products and industrial applications including: non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics , carpets, cosmetics, firefighting foams, electroplating, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. PFAS are found in water, air, fish, soil, animals and humans at locations across the United States and the world.

The development of these compounds started in 1940 and are ubiquitous today. In January, MAWSS was required by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to sample for PFOA/PFOS compounds in the finished drinking water in the first and second quarters of 2022 and to alert the Department if the combined result was greater than 70 parts per trillion. The detected range of PFOA and PFOS was 1.0 – 2.2 parts per trillion.

On ADEM’s website is a list of water utilities and their measured PFOS levels. MAWSS had some of the lowest levels of these compounds in the State. Select “Drinking Water Sampling Report” at the following link to see a list of statewide utility result:. http://adem.alabama.gov/programs/water/drinkingwater/pfasupdate.cnt

The EPA, without prior warning, released interim health advisories of 0.004 parts per trillion(ppt) for PFOA and 0.02 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS on June 15th . These new health advisories are based on new data and draft analysis. Water systems with PFOA & PFOs detections were advised by ADEM to notify customers accordingly.

The water MAWSS provides our customers is the same water provided before these new interim health advisory standards were released. In the Fall of 2022, the EPA is anticipated to release preliminary primary drinking water standards so water utilities can know how to modify treatment processes if necessary to remain compliant. Starting in 2023, the EPA is requiring all water systems serving over 3,300 people to participate in the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) Program which includes testing for 29 different PFAS compounds.

We will continue to modify our processes as necessary to meet the regulatory requirements of ADEM and the EPA. Please see the EPA new Health Advisory Fact Sheet attached. https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2022-06/drinking-waterha-pfas-factsheet-communities.pdf

Please contact Water.Quality@mawss.com for further information”.

We reached out to David Andrews with Environmental Working Group. He says in the short term, people are safe. But long-term health effects could be an issue.

“Increased exposure is related to cancer. Harm to a number of different organs, harm to the reproductive system. These chemicals have the ability to wreak havoc all across our bodies at low concentrations,” Andrews said.

EWG has tracked this contamination issue across the country, including local areas like Satsuma, Daphne, Loxley and Foley.

“We’ve been tracking for a long time and we’ve actually been mapping contamination results across the country. We’ve identified over 2500 sites where drinking water has this contamination. While it stands out as an issue, I would say the city is not alone,” Andrews said.

Boiling and freezing doesn’t reduce the concentration of the chemicals in the water, giving them the name “forever chemicals.”

MAWSS and the EWG said buying a filter will help. But Andrews admits it’s only an interim fix.

“That’s kind of an expensive short-term solution. We really want to look upstream and make sure the polluters are cleaning the contamination and that our water isn’t pre-contaminated before it comes out of the tap,” Andrews said.

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