FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2022
Media Contact: Ted Evgeniadis – Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper – 717-478-1780 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Unprecedented Analysis Reveals PFAS Contamination in York County Waterways Shows Shocking Levels of Contamination
First-of-its kind study by Waterkeeper Alliance found 83% of the waters tested across the country were contaminated by dangerous PFAS chemicals
Wrightsville, PA — Today, Waterkeeper Alliance released a groundbreaking new analysis of American waterways that sounds the alarm on a PFAS pollution emergency. In a test of 114 waterways from across the country, 83% were found to contain at least one type of PFAS—dangerous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are widely linked to serious public health and environmental impacts. The samples our organization collected in the Kreutz Creek Watershed had the worst results overall in the country.
A total of 113 local Waterkeepers, including Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper collected samples from 114 waterways across 34 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.). Independent analysis indicates a shocking level of contamination, with 94 participating Waterkeeper groups confirming the presence of PFAS in their waterways. Waterways in 29 states and D.C. were found to be contaminated by at least one, but most frequently, many revealed the presence of up to 35 different PFAS compounds.
“When we began testing waterways for PFAS earlier this year, we knew that our country had a significant PFAS problem, but these findings confirm that was an understatement. This is a widespread public health and environmental crisis that must be addressed immediately by Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To begin tackling this urgent problem, Congress should start by passing the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act of 2022, and EPA must prioritize using the funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to coordinate national monitoring and adopt regulatory standards for PFAS contamination. This report provides the information necessary for federal and state governments to take action and protect the health and safety of our communities,” said Marc Yaggi, CEO of Waterkeeper Alliance.
In some places, like creeks connected to the Potomac River in Maryland, the Lower Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, and the Niagara River in New York, the level of contamination is thousands to hundreds of thousands times higher than what experts say is safe for drinking water. This is of particular concern as an estimated 65% of Americans source their drinking water from surface waters similar to those sampled.
These findings are an important step toward filling in a major data gap and validate the Alliance’s call to EPA for increased and widespread monitoring to gain a complete picture of PFAS contamination in all watersheds across the country. Findings from the Kreutz Creek Watershed included:
- Modern Landfill discharges leachate (which contains PFAS) into Kreutz Creek and has dramatically degraded water quality throughout the Creek and the Susquehanna River by discharging pollutants above their permit limits.
- Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper participated in the study and grabbed samples from Kreutz Creek above and below Modern Landfill’s discharge pipe. The results were the worst overall among all samples collected by Waterkeepers across the country.
- Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper found levels of PFOS at 374.3 parts per trillion (ppt) and PFOA at 847 ppt in addition to 25 other PFAS compounds at very high levels. Our results are catastrophically high vs. the health standard EPA has set.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued updated Drinking Water Health Advisories in June 2022 for PFOS at 0.02 ppt and PFOA at 0.004 ppt.
Since at least the 1950s, PFAS have been widely used in manufacturing and are found in many consumer, commercial, and industrial products. Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS do not break down over time. Instead, these dangerous chemicals accumulate in people, wildlife, and the environment. As a result, PFAS have been found in surface water, air, soil, food, and many commercial materials. Scientific studies increasingly link these toxic chemicals to serious health conditions such as cancer, liver and kidney disease, reproductive issues, immunodeficiencies, and hormonal disruptions.
Despite serious health risks, there are currently no universal, science-based limits on the various PFAS chemicals in the United States. For many PFAS chemicals, the EPA has not even set a health advisory limit that would give the public a baseline to determine what amount of PFAS is unhealthy in drinking water. In most cases, the EPA is not doing adequate monitoring for these chemicals, which is why these findings are so unique and important.
“Modern Landfill has taken away the constitutional right for residents and the public to safely recreate and fish around Kreutz Creek. The owners of the Landfill must be held accountable to the highest standards in effectively treating their wastewater to remove PFAS and other harmful pollutants,” said Ted Evgeniadis, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper continues to sample Kreutz Creek on a monthly basis and is assessing levels of PFAS in individual residents’ wells throughout Lower Windsor Township, York County, PA.
This data plainly demonstrates that Congress and EPA must act with urgency to control persistent PFAS contamination across the country. The current lack of oversight puts the health and safety of communities and ecosystems across the nation at risk and results in costly cleanup and treatment activities to remove PFAS contamination after it has occurred. To learn more, visit waterkeeper.org/pfas and lowsusriverkeeper.org
Tune into Waterkeeper Alliance Press Briefing on Tuesday, October 18th at 1:30pm ET
The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is a licensed Waterkeeper® organization dedicated to improving the ecological health of the Lower Susquehanna River Watershed and the Chesapeake Bay. The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper patrols the river for illegal pollution, and when necessary, enforces environmental laws to protect the river and communities that depend on it.
Waterkeeper® Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 300 community-based Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates around the world, focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. The Waterkeeper movement patrols and protects over 2.75 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. For more information, visit waterkeeper.org.