Speaking of disease detectives, Newton’s Silent Spring Institute has been monitoring potentially toxic chemicals in the water and homes in Cape Cod and the news is not good.
From a report released today.
Septic systems are the most likely source for most of the 18 chemicals detected, which include nine pharmaceuticals, an insect repellent, halogenated organophosphate flame retardants and perfluorinated chemicals. The two most frequently detected chemicals were sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic commonly used to treat urinary tract infections and pneumonia, and PFOS, used in stain-resistant and nonstick coatings, as well as fire-fighting foams. Levels of these compounds were among the highest reported in US drinking water, except in a few cases of industrial contamination. The widespread presence of antibiotics has raised the possibility of promoting development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. PFOS and the related compound PFOA, which was also detected in this study, are hormone disrupting compounds that have been associated at higher exposure levels with effects on the thyroid, mammary gland, cholesterol metabolism, immune system, cancer, and growth and development.
“We found many contaminants in Cape Cod’s drinking water supply, indicating that current policies are not adequate to prevent emerging contaminants from getting into drinking water. Septic systems are the main source,” said Laurel Schaider, Ph.D., a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute. “Water suppliers who participated in this study are very forward-looking in their approach to protecting water quality for the future.” Monitoring for the test chemicals is not required and there are no regulatory standards for them.
Researchers will hold a public meeting to discuss the findings and answer questions at 3 p.m. today at the Barnstable Town Hall.