116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Tests of drinking water from six public water systems along the Mississippi River show detectable levels of two types of industrial chemicals believed to harm human health, new results show.
The public water supplies of Burlington, Camanche, Davenport, Muscatine and Keokuk, as well as a mobile home park near Muscatine show the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) — two “forever chemicals” being tracked in tests by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
None of the water systems had high enough concentration of the chemicals to cause health concerns, but the state will require quarterly testing of the sites to monitor changes, said Corey McCoid, water supply operations supervisor for the Iowa DNR.
“Our authority comes in when it’s above the health advisory level” of 70 parts per trillion, McCoid said. “Then we would require people to be notified. At that level too, the federal government has funding available.”
The DNR is testing dozens of Iowa water supplies for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), a family of thousands of chemicals used in industrial processes since the 1940s. They are called “forever chemicals” because they linger in water, soil, animals and humans.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an advisory for PFOA and PFOS because — at concentrations above 70 parts per trillion — they have been shown to cause fetal developmental effects as well as cancer, liver damage, immune effects and thyroid effects.
Earlier waves of DNR test results, released in December and January, found detectable levels of the two PFAS shown to have negative health effects in West Des Moines, Ames, Sioux City and Rock Valley. None of these water supplies had PFOA or PFOS levels above 70 parts per trillion.
Tests of drinking water in Iowa City and at the University of Iowa did not turn up detectable levels of those two chemicals. Cedar Rapids results are not yet available.
This week’s results are the first from Mississippi River towns, many of which draw their source water from the river. However, the two water systems with the highest levels of PFOA and PFOS draw their water from the ground or from alluvial wells on the banks of the Mississippi, McCoid said.
“Their results were a little higher than ones directly from the river,” he said.
The Kammerer Mobile Home Court, near Muscatine, showed PFOA at 18 parts per trillion and PFOS at 11 parts per trillion. Camanche, a city of about 4,300 in Clinton County, showed 6.6 parts per trillion of PFOA and 5.8 parts per trillion of PFOS.
The DNR is not testing private wells, which provide 10 percent of drinking water to Iowans and are largely unregulated, Iowa Public Radio reported.
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