Tests show drinking water contamination above EPA advisory level in Gadsden area

by David Kumbroch, originally posted on September 20, 2016


GADSDEN, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Public Health announced that more systems have tested above the EPA threshold for safe drinking water, when it comes to PFC contamination. A news release from the department says two tests from the Gadsden Water Works and Sewer Board tested above EPA advisory levels.

You’ll remember the summer crisis after the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority announced their water wasn’t safe to drink because of elevated PFC levels.

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency lowered their recommended levels for drinking water to 70 parts per trillion. They cited the health impacts of the contamination.

The Alabama Department of Public Health says Gadsden’s two most recent test levels came back at 84 and 82 parts per trillion.

These tests are from the Gadsden Water Works and Sewer Board, which serves residents of Gadsden.

But Alabama Department of Environmental Management records show that board sells to the Highland Water Authority, Northeast Etowah County Water Co-op, Rainbow City Utilities Board, and Whorton Bend Water & Fire Protection Authority.

Prolonged elevated PFC exposure has been linked to a number of serious health ailments, including cancer.

However, the release from the Alabama Department of Public Health focuses on sensitive populations, including pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and formula fed infants, and says the EPA recommends they find another source of drinking water.

We spoke to the Gadsden Water Authority. We were told they’re doing everything they can to lower the levels of contaminants.

They did not go nearly as far as the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority, who had the same contamination and told people not to drink the water. In fact, they emphasized that this is not a health advisory. The state does warn about the health risks of the chemicals, but the overall response to the water contamination has been mixed.

The Gadsen Water Authority says the lower advisory standard from the EPA is relatively new, and they’re still examining longer term solutions.

Learn More