PFAS chemicals found in Central City water: What comes next and what you need to know

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 4:29 PM CDT
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CENTRAL CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Samples of Central City drinking water have found levels of potentially dangerous chemicals nearing the federal threshold. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources only recently started testing the levels of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

They’re man-made chemicals used to make products stain resistant or water proof... and they don’t break down in the environment.

After starting a PFAS action plan back in 2020, the Iowa DNR began looking at water supplies around the state... testing for the chemicals.

While no site tested above the current federal heath advisory of 70 parts per trillion... one Central City well tested at 60 parts per trillion... the highest in Iowa.

”The most important thing is we’re staying in close contact with the DNR. We’re following their recommendations. As they learn, we learn. And we’re taking the matter very seriously,” said Trevyn Cunningham, Central City Public Works Director.

Iowa DNR said next steps for them and the city are more testing.... for two reasons: to continue monitoring PFAS levels, and find where the chemicals are coming from.

”We’re going to take a little bit harder look at Central City to see if we can identify a source of PFAS contamination in that area. And then we’ll work with the community on any type of options for treatment in the future,” said Corey McCoid, Iowa DNR Environmental Program Supervisor for Drinking Water Program.

When it comes to these chemicals David Cwiertny, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa, said there’s still an evolving understanding of the effects.

Cwiertny said long term exposure can cause health effects like reproductive problems, developmental delays, and cancer.

”We’re talking extended for several years through drinking water would be when you start to worry about effects. So, it’s important that we know that they’re there so that the community can take action to try to limit their presence in the water supply,” said Cwiertny.

Those actions include things people can do within their own homes. A study from Duke University shows under-sink reverse osmosis and two-stage charcoal filters removed almost all PFAS from drinking water.

Again Central City is not currently in a health advisory for its PFAS levels in drinking water. But Iowa DNR said the EPA is evaluating the current health advisory level and could reduce it in the coming months.

Residents can keep updated on the situation on the city’s website and Facebook page. You can also find a link to the DNR’s findings across the state but clicking here.

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