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Report says nearly half the country's water contains PFAS

Report shows high levels of PFAS in Twin Cities tap water
Report shows high levels of PFAS in Twin Cities tap water 02:16

MINNEAPOLIS -- A new report says nearly half the tap water in the U.S. tested positive for PFAS.

Those "forever chemicals" are known to cause health problems, even cancer.

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that at least 45% of the nation's tap water is estimated to contain PFAS.

The USGS said it's the first time anyone has tested both public and private water on this broad a scale.

The agency did its tests directly from kitchen sinks. The study tested from 716 locations: urban, rural and everything in between, with most exposure found in urban areas and potential PFAS sites like landfills.

According to their data, the Twin Cities area and southwest Wisconsin had some of the highest number of detections in the country.

"We know that close to that number, that 45-50% range, is exactly what we have in Minnesota of public water supplies that have PFAS contamination at the sources," said Sandeep Burman, who manages the drinking water program with the Minnesota Department of Health. "The good news is that very few systems actually exceed the current state standards for PFAS for drinking water."

The state of Minnesota's own testing, which samples water sources, not taps, found PFAS in the state, for the most part, to be undetectable or at safe levels, with a few exceptions.

One percent of Minnesota tested above state standards, said Burman.

"There's still detections obviously in the city water supplies, but by the time it gets to people it's been treated."

The worry is that eventually science will find PFAS to be much more dangerous than currently thought.

"They're constantly looking at the research literature both nationally and internationally to make sure that we're not surprised and that we are following developments in this area," said Tannie Eshenaur, Planning Director for Drinking Water Protection at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Still Burman said the USGS study should continue to raise cause for concern.

"It's just another confirmation that, whether you look at this by state by state or nationally, you continue to see this huge scale and magnitude of the problem," said Burman.

There is some water treatment you can do at home. The health department said water filters containing active carbon or reverse osmosis membranes can be effective at removing PFAS from water supplies.

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