Researchers find “forever chemicals” in U.S. tap water

Jul 9, 2023, 9:00 AM

Officials in Washington County say measures are being taken to ensure water use meets the future gr...

Officials in Washington County say measures are being taken to ensure water use meets the future growth in the county. (Tom Baker/Deposit Photos) ¿Bebes agua del grifo? Podría estar contaminada con un peligroso virus Tom Baker Tab62/Deposit Photos and background bathroom blue clean cleaning closeup cup decoration drinking faucet female from hands home horizontal house hygiene in indoor inside into modern of photo porcelain pouring putting restroom sink stainless steel tap water white with

(Tom Baker/Deposit Photos)

SALT LAKE CITY — Half of the tap water in the United States could contain “forever chemicals.”  

However, ABC News correspondent Jim Ryan told KSL NewsRadio that only certain areas of the nation have reason to be concerned. 


What are forever chemicals?

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a whole class of manmade chemicals called the “forever chemicals.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said these companies use these chemicals to make coatings for products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. PFAS are in many different household products like furniture, clothing, and cooking appliances. Ryan said we have accurately deemed these chemicals as “forever” because they stay around for a long time in the environment and in our bodies.

Ryan said in the U.S. Environment Protection Agency‘s nationwide check, they found about 12,000 types of PFAS.

“Only 32 of those candidate compounds are picked up by lab tests,” he explained. “So there are many more that may be out there in the environment we just don’t really know about yet.”

Should Utahns be concerned?

The U.S. Geological Survey found that at least 45% of the nation’s tap water is contaminated with PFAS. But are the levels high enough to evoke concern?

Ryan said the level itself isn’t the issue, it’s the length of exposure. Therefore, if these chemicals happen to be in your drinking supply for years, that’s when possible negative reactions began to take effect. 

“(PFAS have) been linked to things like cancer, obesity, thyroid disease… high cholesterol, even decreased fertility among men,” he said. 

Luckily for Utah, Ryan said the chemicals are not common in the Northwest. 

“When it comes to forever chemicals, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, those places are all fairly clear,” he said. 

PFAS detections in point-of-use tapwater collected from public-supply (blue circles) and private-wells (green triangles) across the United States including Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands. (U.S. Geological Survey)

Ryan said hotspots for PFAS detections sit around “a lot of East Coast places a lot of the Upper Midwest, those places where industrialization really took hold in the early 20th century.” 

“So you know, I think those folks in the Pacific Northwest,” he continued. “As an accident of geography, aren’t having such a problem with this.”

Related Reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Image of John A. Moran, who died Sept. 23, 2023. Moran had a passion for eye care, which led to the...

Mark Jones

John A. Moran remembered for passion for eye care

John A. Moran has died at age 91. He was the driving force behind creation of the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah.

8 hours ago

If you're looking at getting good sleep, you'll want to focus on your thoughts about it as opposed ...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: It’s not how well you slept, but how well you think you slept

When it comes to getting good sleep, it's more about your attitude on how you slept versus the actual sleep you got.

15 hours ago

FILE: Stacie Hale plays with her son Theodor at home in Smithfield. Stacie hoped to get aid from WI...

Lindsay Aerts

Government shutdown could disrupt Utahns using WIC benefits

But Utah health officials say they're working to assure that the benefits for Utah mothers and children will not run out.

3 days ago

Wasatch County Sheriff's Office...

Simone Seikaly

Mother charged with aggravated murder after disappearance of infant

Police said the mother 18-year-old Estrella Meza Ojeda, withheld supplemental oxygen that her infant son needed to survive.

3 days ago

Eating high-calorie foods regularly can make it a challenge to lose weight — even if you spend mo...

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

What happens if you exercise but don’t eat well?

Exercise cannot completely reverse the effects of a bad diet, experts say.

3 days ago

Close up of a woman using her smartphone indoors. (Getty Images)...

Mariah Maynes

Blue light blocking glasses not reccomended by AAO

Blue light-filtering glasses not recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology due to lack of scientific evidence.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Researchers find “forever chemicals” in U.S. tap water