New York Times, National Geographic: EPA says ‘forever chemicals’ must be removed from tap water

The University of Cincinnati's Susan Pinney was featured in the New York Times and National Geographic in stories on the EPA's recent requirement that municipal water systems remove six synthetic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems that are present in the tap water of hundreds of millions of Americans.

The new rule states water providers must reduce levels of industrial pollutants perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS or "forever chemicals," to nearly zero. 

Pinney, professor in the Department of Environmental & Public Health Sciences in UC's College of Medicine, director of the Center for Environmental Genetics and associate director of population science in the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, is a nationally known expert on forever chemicals who has studied the topic for years.

“The evidence of PFAS being dangerous goes all the way back to the 1980s when chemists were doing studies, noticed that PFAS had the same chemical structure as other dangerous chemicals and they reported on it,” Pinney says. “It’s taken a very long time for us to recognize it as a human toxin. Meanwhile, all of these toxins got into our environment, and it’s going to take a long time before they leave.”

The Times cited Pinney's recently published research that found exposure to PFAS may delay the onset of puberty in girls. She said the number of people exposed to PFAS nationwide is "mind boggling."

“Puberty is a window of susceptibility,” Pinney said. “Environmental exposures during puberty, not just to PFAS, but anything, have more of a potential for a long-term health effect. What these have done is extended the window of susceptibility, and it makes them more vulnerable for a longer period of time.”

Pinney told National Geographic she "applauds" the EPA decision.

“It’s in line with what we know about the health effects of PFAS,” Pinney said.

Read the New York Times story.

Read the National Geographic story.

Pinney's research was also featured in a Columbus Dispatch story on the new EPA rule. Read the Dispatch story.

Featured photo at top of water sampling. Photo/iStock/vitranc.

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