116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Recent testing by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources found “very low” but detectable levels of two types of industrial chemicals in Cedar Rapids’ public water supply, but the city reports that its water remains safe to drink.
The Iowa DNR is testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of thousands of chemicals used in industrial processes around the globe since the 1940s. They are called “forever chemicals” because they accumulate over time in water, soil, animals and humans.
Testing results for February in Cedar Rapids show that perfluorooctanioic acid (PFOA) was not detected in the finished potable water, according to results shared Monday. Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) was found in one Cedar Rapids well at 4.7 parts per trillion, far below the current advisory level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A combination of wells are running constantly, feeding the treatment process, so the effects of one specific well are diluted, according to the city. Because of that process, no PFOS or PFOA were found in sampling of the water leaving the plant.
Of the 25 compounds tested in the PFAS group, the EPA has an advisory for PFOA and PFOS at concentrations above 70 parts per trillion. The chemicals have been shown to cause fetal developmental effects as well as cancer, liver damage, immune effects and thyroid effects.
One of the 25 PFAS compounds was detected in the finished water leaving the plant. Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) was detected in trace amounts at 2.3 parts per trillion. The EPA does not have a health advisory set for the PFBA compound.
The Iowa DNR met with the city to review these results and characterized both detections as “very low,” and categorized the PFBA detection as “consistent or ubiquitous with what we are finding around the state,” according to the city. The EPA Health Advisory Level includes an added margin of safety to protect populations that may be most vulnerable to PFAS.
Based on current data, the city says there is no indication Cedar Rapids water customers must take any special actions at this time. The city’s water remains safe to drink.
“At the city of Cedar Rapids, we take water and water quality very seriously. Our drinking water is safe and is well within the EPA and DNR standards,” Water Plant Manager Christine Knapp said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the Iowa DNR to monitor PFAS and will keep providing our community with safe, high-quality drinking water.”
The city will conduct regular testing of finished potable water. The Iowa DNR will monitor on a quarterly basis over the next year. Results of the sampling will be shared on the Iowa DNR website.
North of Cedar Rapids, Central City has concentrations of “forever chemicals” in a drinking water well that exceed safety thresholds in other states and that are the highest so far identified by the Iowa surveillance program, according to a report by the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
Previously released waves of test results 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 reveal detectable levels of those two chemicals.
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