New federal report says no general public health risk in West Morgan-East Lawrence drinking water, infants may be at risk

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  A new federal report that summarizes testing of area residents says drinking the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority’s water is not a current public health hazard.

In January and February 2016, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry collected blood and urine samples from 46 people who had participated in the 2010 exposure investigation, according to an agency news release.

The report says that prior exposure to the level of chemicals found in the drinking water should not pose a health risk for most age groups, with one key exception.

[Read the full federal drinking water report]

The report found, “Infants and young children whose primary drinking water source was the West Morgan East Lawrence Municipal Water Authority and who drank average or above average quantities of this water at the maximum concentrations detected may have an increased risk of harmful effects resulting from additive exposure to PFOA and PFOS.”

The report details testing of residents regularly exposed to the system’s water. Representatives from the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will be in Moulton on Dec. 6.

In May the EPA announced it was lowering what it believed to be the acceptable lifetime exposure to PFC chemicals.

Chemical compounds PFOA and PFOS are linked to a number of health problems. The chemicals were used in the manufacturing process for products like Scotchguard by 3M. The company stopped using the chemicals several years ago, but they don’t break down in the environment and accumulate in the body during exposure.

In June, the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority advised its customers not to drink its water because testing showed the levels were above the new EPA health advisory.

The announcement fueled anger, confusion and led the authority to begin using water brought in from Decatur Utilities. The water tests eventually showed the system’s water reading were below EPA level. The authority has also updated its water filtration system.

ATSDR staff will be available to answer questions about the results of the exposure investigation at a public availability and poster session on Dec. 6th, from 6-8 p.m., at the  Moulton Recreation Center. It is  located at 13550 Court St. in Moulton. Residents can stop by anytime during these hours to meet scientists, ask questions, and discuss their concerns about potential exposure.

For more information about the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's work visit http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). To learn more about the chemicals, visit http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfc/index.html.