Maryland regulators say they plan to test drinking water and Chesapeake Bay oysters for the presence of what are known as “forever chemicals” — a step toward potential regulation of a class of harmful human-made substances that some fear are ubiquitous.
PFAS — per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances — are found in everything from stain-repellent fabrics and nonstick cookware to cleaning products and firefighting foams. They are spreading into soil and groundwater from landfills and firefighting training sites. And they can build up in humans and animals through exposure from drinking water, seafood and older consumer products.
The Maryland Department of the Environment is finalizing a plan to collect hundreds of samples from drinking water sources around the state amid growing concern from studies linking the chemicals to liver, kidney and reproductive dysfunction, high cholesterol levels and tumor growth.
They are also exploring a broader effort to test the bay and creatures within it, starting with oysters in St. Mary’s County waters. That testing is set to begin this month.
PFAS were first used in consumer products including nonstick pans and fabric protectants in the 1940s and 1950s, and by the 1970s were commonly used in foams to put out fires. But concerns about the chemicals building up in human bloodstreams did not enter public knowledge until the late 1990s. That alarm has grown because of more recent studies and even monitoring by concerned citizens…