Tests Of California Water Supplies Reveal Widespread PFAS Contamination

A class of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, known as PFASs, are present in numerous wells used for drinking water across California, according to new state tests performed on a fraction of California’s many well water supplies.

The test samples, released Monday by the State Water Resources Control Board, represent California’s fledgling effort to get a handle on contaminants that until recently haven’t been well tracked and regulated.

PFAS Toxins Found In Drinking Water Throughout Southern California

Wells of nearly two dozen Southern California water agencies have reportable levels of PFAS, a chemical family increasingly linked to cancer, liver and kidney damage, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low fertility, low birth weight and ulcerative colitis. Six of those agencies have shut down wells in the past year because of the presence of those chemicals and two more plan closures, an investigation by the Southern California News Group found. The state only this year began ordering testing for the chemicals, and a state law requiring that customers be notified about the presence of those chemicals won’t kick in until next year.

California Could See A Slew Of Prop 65 Lawsuits Related To PFAS

With California’s addition of two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) – to its Proposition 65 list, the state may have potentially paved the way for an explosion of lawsuits. “It confirms our … concern all along,” said Luke Wake, an attorney with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center in Sacramento. “We’ve continually raised concerns about Prop 65 as really creating open season for these plaintiffs’ … controlling attorneys, basically.” Proposition 65 is also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act and was passed in 1986. PFOA and PFOS were added to the Proposition 65 list in 2017 and warnings were required on products as of November 2018, according to a report in JD Supra.

California Will Check On ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Drinking Water. What You Need To Know

Over 75 years, a billion-dollar industry has grown up around a group of toxic chemicals that helps keep carpets clean, makes water roll off of camping equipment, and stops your food from sticking to frying pans. There are nearly 5,000 of these chemicals in a class called PFAS, for perfluoralkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. We’re just beginning to understand the risk they pose. What chemists know is that the tough carbon-fluorine bonds in these “forever chemicals” make them break down very slowly in the environment — posing a persistent risk to water supplies.  The Centers for Disease Control has profiled PFAS, which has been studied in people and in animals. Studies have linked to it developmental problems, thyroid disease, harm to the immune system, and impaired liver function.

California Is Testing Its Water, So PFAS Defendants Could Face Prop 65 Lawsuits Soon

California could be moving toward the regulation and litigation of perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFAS) since government agencies have been testing water in many locations, including airports and landfills, with results due as early as this fall. “The state water board is doing a bunch of sampling in drinking or ground water,” said Leila Bruderer, an attorney with the Downey Brand firm in Sacramento. “Under Proposition 65, there is potential for that litigation.” California’s Proposition 65 – the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act – was passed in 1986 to guard against chemicals that cause health problems.