WASHINGTON – A highly toxic Teflon chemical has been detected in the drinking water sources serving President Trump and other members of the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J., according to a new analysis of water utility tests by the Environmental Working Group and first reported on by Politico.
The most notorious perfluorinated chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, was detected on three separate occasions between January and September of this year.
The levels of PFOA detected by an independent laboratory on behalf of the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, were at 3.5 and 3.6 parts per trillion, or ppt; more than three times higher than the 1 ppt that EWG scientists and other independent experts believe is safe for human health. There is no legal limit for PFAS chemicals under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, or SDWA.
PFOA and other perfluorinated chemicals called PFAS are some of the most persistent environmental contaminants in the world. PFOA does not break down and as a result is now in the blood of nearly every American, including newborns.
DuPont began using the chemical in the early 1950s in the manufacture of Teflon, the nonstick compound used cookware and other products. It is linked to testicular and kidney cancer in people, along with a host of other serious health problems.
Trump’s golf course, which the president likes to call the “Summer White House,” is located on 600 “rolling acres in the prestigious New Jersey countryside,” in Somerset County. It includes 36 holes, an expansive pool complex, tennis courts and other high-end amenities, and bills itself as “one of the most sought after private clubs in the country.” Press reports have indicated the price of a membership to be as much as $300,000.
“The discovery of PFAS contaminants at Trump’s garish country club has given us a new ‘Teflon Don,’” said EWG President Ken Cook. “I suppose one would hope after they’ve spent more than a quarter of million just to get in the door, President Trump could at least give his members filtered drinking water free of cancer-causing chemicals. But, if he’s going to refuse to enact policies to clean up drinking water contamination for the rest of the country, why should the foursome waiting to tee off on the back nine be treated any different?”
During a sit-down with The New York Times shortly after the election, President-elect Donald Trump told the assembled journalists, columnists and editors that “clean air' and 'crystal clear water’ were vitally important,” the paper reported.
“In fairness to the president, PFAS is a colorless toxic water contaminant,” said Cook.
As president, Mr. Trump’s tune has, of course, changed dramatically when it comes to both clean air and water. His EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has so far refused calls to set a health-protective legal limit for PFAS chemicals under the federal SDWA. And President Trump and the White House have threatened to veto a defense spending bill over key PFAS cleanup and monitoring provisions currently attached to the legislation.
To its credit, the NJDEP recently set a drinking water standard for one PFAS chemical, PFNA, at 13 ppt and has proposed standards for both PFOA and PFOS at 14ppt and 13ppt respectively. While states and water utilities must consider a number of factors when proposing limits for drinking water contaminants, the more we learn from emerging science, the lower those levels drop.
The details of PFOA contamination in the private well that provides drinking water for President Trump’s private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., is part of a new report by EWG showing New Jersey has now surpassed Michigan as the top state in the country with the most confirmed PFAS detection in drinking water systems and groundwater sources.
A Trump shakedown may be the only way members of the club might attain filtered tap water free of PFOA, noted Cook.
“By no stretch would this be a quid pro quo,” said Cook. “If his fellow members want safe drinking water, they might have to do Trump a favor, though. Call it a fee for service.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.
Photo source: Trump National Golf Course, Bedminster, N.J.