PFAS Contamination in the U.S. (October 4, 2021)

Mapping the PFAS contamination crisis: New data show 2,854 sites in 50 states and two territories

WHY IS THIS MAP IMPORTANT?

The number of U.S. communities confirmed to be contaminated with the highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS continues to grow at an alarming rate. As of August 2021, 2,854 locations in 50 states and two territories are known to be contaminated.

The latest update of this interactive map documents PFAS pollution in public and private water systems. Details about our sources and methodology are here.

Information about sites newly added to the map comes from various PFAS detections reported to government agencies in Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and other states, as well as updated records from the Department of Defense.

Explore the Map

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING?

The Environmental Protection Agency has known about the health hazards of PFAS for decades but has failed to limit PFAS discharges into the air and water or set cleanup standards.

The agency released a woefully inadequate plan PFAS action plan in 2019 that failed to include deadlines for action, and the EPA has made little progress.

The Department of Defense has been testing for PFAS at military installations but has made little to no progress cleaning up any contaminated bases.

President Joe Biden has promised to tackle PFAS contamination by regulating the chemicals in drinking water, designating PFAS as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law, stopping government purchasing of some products containing PFAS, and funding additional research into the chemicals.

In March 2021, the EPA announced it would regulate two PFAS – PFOA and PFOS, the two most notorious PFAS chemicals – in drinking water. But it could take years before these regulations are final.

In April, EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the formation of an EPA PFAS Council tasked with identifying agency action priorities within 100 days. The council’s recommendations have not yet been made public.

EPA added 175 PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, in response to a congressional mandate. A listing in the TRI requires facilities to report releases of those PFAS into the environment. But many manufacturers appear to be taking advantage of a loophole to evade reporting requirements.

In October, the EPA released a PFAS Strategic Roadmap that includes accelerating efforts to set a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS by 2023.

The plan also proposes designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. And it pledges to close loopholes that allow companies to hide PFAS releases from the public.

Congress has introduced dozens of bills to monitor the scope of PFAS contamination, ban non-essential uses of PFAS, address ongoing PFAS contamination, and clean up legacy PFAS pollution. 

A number of states are also taking steps to address PFAS pollution by banning some uses of the substances and setting cleanup standards.
The Environmental Working Group welcomes requests to reproduce EWG PFAS data for peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. To request permission, please email a completed EWG Materials Request Form to [email protected]. EWG reviews requests on a case-by-case basis and reserves the right to deny permission for any reason, at its sole discretion.

About the Map

For all water systems with a detection of PFOS, PFOA or another PFAS chemical, a maximum concentration for each PFAS and a maximum total PFAS concentration is displayed. The maximum levels listed are from a single point in time and do not reflect whether a water system has changed sources or is treating the water to reduce PFAS levels.

All locations represented on the map are approximate and intended to portray the general area of a contamination site or a community water system. Locations were mapped using the best data available from official records, including data provided by tests of public drinking water systems, the Safe Drinking Water Information System and the Department of Defense report “Addressing Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA),” and Department of Defense public records, among others.

Data on contaminated industrial and military sites was current as of August 2021.

Disclaimer: EWG has worked to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this map. The map is dynamic. This contaminant site, results, suspected sources and other information in the database may change based on evolving science, new information or other factors. Please be advised that this information frequently relies on data obtained from many sources, and accordingly, EWG cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided or any analysis based thereon.

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