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New study suggests PFAS might be in almost half of US tap water. See the results from Cape Cod

Courtesy USGS

A new United States Geological Survey (USGS) study suggests the 'forever chemicals' PFAS are in about 45% of the country’s tap water supplies.

The report includes samples taken throughout the Cape. Most of the samples were collected in 2018.

The USGS found some types of PFAS in tap water that came from both private wells and town supplies.

Lead Author and Research Hydrologist Kelly Smalling said people can look at results from their area through an online dashboard.

“They can use this information to first get informed and then second, evaluate their own personal risk. Because we know risk is really personal and folks have to decide if this is an issue for them.”

The highest local levels of PFAS included in the study were detected at a private well in Mashpee in 2018.

PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals. The USGS study tested for 32 types.

PFAS are found in a variety of everyday products and have been linked with an increased risk for some cancers. They're commonly referred to as forever chemicals because they don't break down over time.

Jamie DeWitt is a Pharmacology & Toxicology Professor at East Carolina University.

She said people who are concerned about PFAS in drinking water can contact local public health officials or consider using an in-home filtration system.

She added PFAS are found in several things besides water.

“People can get exposed to PFAS through the food that they eat, the air that they breathe, places that they work. So, if you’re concerned about PFAS, start to figure out where your sources of exposures might be and see what you can do to reduce your exposures.”

Public water utilities regulate six kinds of PFAS under Massachusetts law.

In March, the EPA announced a plan to reduce and regulate PFAS in drinking water.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.