More than 6 million Americans are drinking water polluted with highly fluorinated chemicals.

The most-studied chemicals in the class are linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, decreased sperm quality, high cholesterol, decreased immune function in children, and other serious health problems.

Highly fluorinated chemicals are found in firefighting foam used by military and domestic airports, furniture, carpets, outdoor gear, clothing, cosmetics, cookware and food packaging. The chemicals make their way from manufacturing facilities, consumer products and firefighting activities into the air, water, and food, and then into humans.

The health impact of these chemicals, which are increasingly being found in our drinking water, is very concerning. Some scientists say we are carrying out an unintended chemical experiment on our population. Patrick Breysse, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, described highly fluorinated chemicals as “one of the most seminal public health challenges for the next decades.”

A recent analysis indicated that the number of Americans with contaminated drinking water is much higher than scientists had estimated. One of the nation’s largest water testing labs estimated that a quarter of our nation’s water systems are likely to contain these chemicals at levels of concern to some scientists.

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