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Progress made in fight against ‘forever chemicals’ in water

By Tom Markland, The Journal

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. — Out of the 130 water systems in West Virginia that tested positive for “forever chemicals,” 22 of them can be found in the Eastern Panhandle.

To combat the issue, scientists and advocates from the West Virginia Rivers Coalition have been working on finding solutions.

During Potomac Valley Audubon Society’s monthly program, Jenna Dodson, a staff scientist with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and Maria Russo, the Clean Water Campaign coordinator, presented information from a newly released, 28-page report to listeners at Hospice of the Panhandle in Kearneysville.

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are a group of over 9,000 chemicals known as “forever chemicals,” because they don’t break down under natural conditions.

They have been used for the past 80 years for their non-stick and heat-, water- and stain-resistant qualities in products like food packaging, carpet and firefighting foam.

Detectable levels of these substances have been found in 130 water systems throughout West Virginia, out of the 279 public water systems tested by public officials. Scientific studies have linked PFAS contamination to a variety of adverse health effects, such as liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, hormone suppression and even several types of cancer.

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