High levels of PFOS and PFOA — also known as “forever” chemicals for their inability to break down easily — have been detected in the drinking water of several communities in the CNMI.
The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation announced this week that it found unusually high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, in the drinking water for Chalan Laulau, Iliying, Chalan Kiya, As Terlaje, Kannat Tabla, Fina Sisu, Oleai, and parts of southern Garapan, Gualo Rai, Susupe, As Lito, and As Perdido.
CUC added that the PFOS and PFOA levels exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion in these areas.
CUC advised residents of these areas to avoid drinking tap water, cooking with tap water, or making ice for consumption with tap water until the concentrations of PFOS and PFOA are reduced to EPA-recommended levels, so that residents can be protected from the adverse health effects that can result when people are overexposed to these chemicals over the course of a lifetime.
Studies indicate that overexposure to PFOA and PFOS may result in negative developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants (including low birth weight, accelerated puberty, and skeletal variations).
In addition, high levels of PFOA and PFOS exposure can increase the risk of testicular and kidney cancer, liver damage, and thyroid and immune system problems.