Updated Map Tracks PFAS Contamination in the U.S.

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Updated Map Tracks PFAS Contamination in the U.S.

By: Doug Hunter

On May 6, 2019, the Environmental Working Group and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University released the latest update of their interactive map  documenting the publicly known contamination from PFAS chemicals in the United States.   At least 610 locations, including public water systems, military bases, military and civilian airports, industrial plants, dumps, and firefighter training sites, are known to be contaminated.  The map is color coded to distinguish between PFAS contamination at military sites, in drinking water and at other known sites.  The user can navigate to areas of interest and click the site icon and a window pops up with the available information, including the site name, location, the PFOS/PFOA concentration range, and the suspected PFAS source. 

Michigan leads the country with 192 locations, which is 145 more than California, the state with the second most sites (47).  The numbers for Michigan, however, are likely skewed because of their ongoing, comprehensive PFAS testing program.  Beginning in April 2018, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) launched a statewide sampling program to test Michigan’s public water supplies.  In February 2019, ENGL announced that 1,114 public water systems, 461 school wells and 17 tribal water systems had been tested.  In addition to the public water systems, municipal waste-water treatment plants, permitted NPDES dischargers and industrial facilities, military bases and landfills known to have used or disposed of PFAS containing materials had been targeted for sampling.  Imagine what the national map might look like if every state had a PFAS sampling program like Michigan. 

Published in Cox-Colvin’s May 2019 Focus on the Environment newsletter.

Doug is a licensed professional geologist in Indiana and North Carolina. As a consulting hydrogeologist, Doug specializes in aquifer characterization and yield determinations, well and wellfield performance evaluations, and the design and testing of both vertical well and horizontal collector well systems. Additional areas of expertise include environmental assessment and remedial system evaluation and design. He has worked throughout the United States on a wide variety of groundwater supply and environmental contamination related projects. Doug’s wide-ranging expertise and extensive experience in the groundwater supply industry add another dimension to Cox-Colvin’s technical staff and provide additional opportunity to support our clients in meeting their needs and reaching their business goals.