The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has now identified 19 drinking water utilities that have levels of PFAS above federal health guidelines.
PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals found in all kinds of non-stick and stain-resistant products — from pans, to carpets to fast-food wrappers. Among other things, exposure to them has been linked to kidney cancer, problems with the immune system and developmental issues in children.
IDEM recently retested midsize water utilities in light of new, stricter federal health guidelines for PFAS.
Ten midsize utilities had levels above those guidelines — including Indiana American Water in Charlestown and Georgetown, Rural Membership Water Corporation of Clark County, Floyds Knobs Water Company, Gibson Water, Palmyra Water Works, Whiteland Water Works, Mount Vernon Water Works, West Terre Haute Water, and Tennyson Water Utility. Nine smaller drinking water utilities did as well.
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Six of those midsize utilities had levels of PFOA and PFOS — two of the most well-known PFAS — above proposed federal limits for the chemicals.
IDEM is still working to test the drinking water at the state's largest water utilities and release the results.
IDEM originally reported the following utilities with detectable levels of PFAS in their finished drinking water during in the first round of sampling, but PFAS weren’t detected in the finished water in this latest test: Dubois Water Utilities, Danville Water Works, Rensselaer Water Department, B&B Water Project, Inc., Morgan County Rural Water Company, and North Manchester Water Department.
IDEM did still detect PFAS at Canaan Utilities, but levels weren’t above federal health guidelines.
In an email, IDEM said there could be a number of reasons for the different results since the lab is looking for even barely detectable levels of PFAS.
“It could be due to seasonal variation or variations in the aquifer. Without knowing the specific source for the PFAS detected in the initial sampling, it’s difficult to identify the cause of the variations,” the agency said.
This story has been updated.