Carcinogen found in drinking water may be widespread

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Communities in three states—New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont—have found elevated levels in their drinking water of the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer and negative health outcomes in children. Phillippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, thinks the problem may be even more widespread.

Grandjean studies PFOA, which is used in many water-resistant and nonstick products. He has found that it can interfere with children’s immune systems, making them less responsive to vaccines. Other studies have shown a probable link between PFOA and some types of cancer.

Grandjean told NPR’s Morning Edition on March 31, 2016 that he believes that PFOA contamination in drinking water is not just a problem for a few communities. “This is a problem that I am sure occurs in every single state,” he said.