Chris Schulz Published

New Study Finds High Levels Of ‘Forever Chemicals’ In New Martinsville Water

Water pouring from a faucet into a clear glass cup.Jasonanaggie/Wikimedia Commons

Tap water testing conducted in 18 states by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found New Martinsville had the second-highest level of PFAS in the country at 40 parts per trillion.

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are manmade chemicals used in an array of industrial processes and consumer products, but linger in the environment and pose a risk to human health.

Of the 36 locations tested by the nonprofit research and advocacy organization, only Monroe, New Jersey had higher levels at 80 parts per trillion.

The EPA has proposed a new limit for some PFAS of four parts per trillion. 

Tasha Stoiber, senior scientist for EWG, said the EPA’s proposed regulation is significant and overdue, but more can be done for public health.

“The health based limit that we want to be working towards, that is different from the enforceable legal MCL (maximum contaminant limit), the four parts per trillion,” she said. “Actually the goal would be zero because there’s no actual safe limit of these chemicals in your drinking water. The goal is zero, they are linked to cancer.”

Stoiber said consumers can take proactive steps, such as filtering their water at the tap before drinking, but more will need to be done to address the larger issue.

“The mental burden of having to figure out what filter to buy, the economic burden, this shouldn’t be placed on individuals or the community,” she said. “Recognizing that it should be the polluters that were originally responsible for this and that have profited so much over the last few decades, it should be the polluters that pay to fix this.” 

The EPA is in the process of collecting samples to understand the frequency the chemicals are found in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels. The data collection is slated to take place through 2025, and Stoiber said it could be some time before the data is publicly available.

“That’s why we continue to do these smaller testing projects, just to get more results out there and to show that this contaminant contamination is quite widespread,” she said.

Gov. Jim Justice’s office has directed the DHHR and DEP to collaborate with water systems in West Virginia in preparation of the revised EPA guidelines.