Flint, Michigan is no longer the only American city synonymous with contaminated drinking water. Recent reports show there are Flints in nearly every state. The cities and contaminants change, but the unease remains.
Cape Cod, with its quaint hamlets and salty breezes, is more closely associated with Camelot than contaminants. But the seaside escape has been gripped for decades by instances of seemingly unexplainable illnesses.
Within a span of three months, the U.S. government released two reports that called into question the safety of America’s drinking water.
In March 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) provided a full list of military installations that have water near or around them that contain harmful levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.
Dubbed “forever chemicals,” these man-made substances like plastic do not break down. They accumulate over time in the environment and some can linger in the human body for years.
PFAS can be found in the most mundane household products from nonstick cookware to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss. The chemicals are also one of the main ingredients in firefighting foam which explains their high presence on military bases.
The PFAS chemicals seep into soil and groundwater, contaminating them. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sanctioned study found PFAS in 98 percent of the American population.