(CNN) – A new report by an environmental watchdog found that the drinking water in dozens of cities nationwide is contaminated with elevated levels of “forever chemicals” or PFAS (Perfluorooctanoic acid).
The chemicals got that name because they don’t break down naturally and will build up in our bodies over time, increasing the risk of cancer, reducing the effectiveness of vaccines and harming the development of fetuses.
According to the report from the Environmental Working Group, tap water samples from 44 places in 31 states and the District of Columbia were tested.
Some of the highest PFAS levels detected were in samples from major metropolitan areas, including Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and the northern New Jersey suburbs of New York City.
Only one location, Meridian, Mississippi had no detectable PFAS, which draws its drinking water from wells more than 700 feet deep.
In 34 places where the group found PFAS, contamination has not been publicly reported by the Environmental Protection Agency or state environmental agencies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly all Americans have PFAS in their blood, and the health effects of low levels of these “forever chemicals” are unknown.
Environmental Working Group scientists believe PFAS are likely detectable in all major water supplies in the United States, almost certainly in all that use surface water.