Columbus plans to lower toxic PFAS in drinking water, 6 more utilities have unhealthy levels
There are 30 drinking water utilities in Indiana with toxic PFAS in their treated water at levels that are above federal health guidelines. A list of test results is available on IDEM's website.
PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals found in all kinds of non-stick and stain-resistant products — from pans, to carpets to fast-food wrappers. Among other things, exposure to them has been linked to kidney cancer, problems with the immune system and developmental issues in children.
The city of Columbus has PFOA — a type of PFAS — in its treated drinking water at levels nearly twice as high as the federal government’s proposed limits.
Mayor Jim Lienhoop said the city has shut down one drinking water well that had PFOA levels much higher than the others in the hope it will bring the levels in the treated water down. He said the city also hopes to drill new, safer drinking water wells and eventually add activated charcoal treatment to its water treatment process.
“And then I guess there’s really a fourth strategy, which is that we will pursue reimbursement for these costs from some of the manufacturers associated with these compounds. 3M and DuPont have already been engaged in litigation and we intend to join that," Lienhoop said.
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Lienhoop said money from a lawsuit could help the city pay for the cost of keeping residents safe.
As of late August, toxic PFAS has been found at levels above federal health guidelines in the treated drinking water at six more large utilities in Indiana. That includes utilities serving the cities of East Chicago, Madison and Ramsey as well as Lake, Jackson and Johnson counties.
Indiana Public Broadcasting created a guide for what to do if there are PFAS in your water.