Water districts seek to find a way to get rid of chemicals found in many man-made items

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An emerging constituent, PFAS, or Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, is a chemical emerging in drinking water across the nation.

Murrieta is served by several water districts and these include Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, Eastern Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District and Rancho California Water District.

PFAS are a family of over 6,000 chemicals according to the report presented at the Feb. 18 Murrieta City Council meeting. These chemicals are used in manufacturing for their heat and water-resistant properties, and they’re also found in thousands of items we use every day: water-proof clothing, cleaning products, nonstick cookware, fire-fighting foam, paint, microwave popcorn bags and dental floss.

Water districts don’t put these chemicals into the water, but over time they have entered the waterways through manufacturing and landfills.

While PFAS manufacturing in the United States has come to an end, they are still manufactured abroad, though state and federal regulations are working to manage PFAS levels currently in the water.

Guidelines are evolving, and there have been changes seen in 2020 in regards to these regulations.

Water supplies across the state are being tested. Seventy-four community water systems in California had detected levels, while one source exceeded the response levels in 2020 and was removed from service in November 2019.

The Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District among the several other districts presented during the meeting are currently exploring their options for treatment in a cost-effective way.

A water specialist from the EVMWD said that the health effects of PFAS chemicals are currently being studied by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and while it seems like the health effects could range from low infant birth rates, cancer, among a few others, there have not been official long-term studies conducted to prove this.

The chemical itself is not new, according to the Western Municipal Water District, as it’s been around since the 1940s, though testing has now currently caught up to it. Western said in the evening report that everyone possesses some type of PFAS in their bodies.

For more information on the city council meeting, Feb. 18, or its agenda items, visit https://vimeo.com/cityofmurrieta.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.