PENNSYLVANIA. (WHTM) – The United States Geological Survey released a map, using data collected in 2019. It shows the 161 sites across the state that were sampled for PFAS and 76% of the tested streams contained the chemicals, including the Susquehanna River.
“The problem is the Susquehanna, a lot of people recreating in that water. You know, they are catching fish, you know, which many of which they’re consuming, or other sorts of organisms are associated with that,” said Harrisburg University earth system sciences assistant professor Michael Meyer.
Meyer says it’s a little surprising the large amount of PFAS found in the Susquehanna River.
“But I’m not necessarily terribly, completely surprised. We have a large industrial base in the Susquehanna River Basin, especially around here. A lot of companies use these sorts of products,” said Meyer.
The chemical gets into the waterways from things like firefighting foam, nonstick pans, food packaging, plastics, or waterproof clothing.
“So sometimes your clothes might even have these things in it you don’t even know. You’re just like, oh, I went and picked up this jacket and it looks good, but it actually has some of these chemicals in it. And so, as those things break down, they end up getting transferred into the environment,” said Meyer.
Meyer says PFAS has been found to be linked to many different types of cancers.
“Basically, once they get in your system, they, they don’t have a good way to get out necessarily and they kind of get in the way of how your body functions. And so, then you can develop depending on where it kind of ends up in you, various sorts of cancers, or at least the current finding is linking them to it,” said Meyer.
So, what is being done about this?
“So far, there’s no regulation on this chemical for regular testing in many parts of the state and in the nation, people have already kind of started doing this sort of testing. This is some of the initial work that’s been done. I can’t imagine after the study that there’s not going to be a push now for more regular testing, not only in Pennsylvania but nationwide,” said Meyers.