Dangerous 'forever chemicals' found in drinking water

  • John Gulledge, the water plant chief in Lake Forest, is worried about the costs of removing chemicals known as PFAS, even in the trace amounts found in his city's water supply.

    John Gulledge, the water plant chief in Lake Forest, is worried about the costs of removing chemicals known as PFAS, even in the trace amounts found in his city's water supply. Pat Nabong/Chicago Sun-Times

 
 
Updated 7/30/2021 3:29 PM

More than 100 drinking water systems across Illinois, including some in the Chicago area, have tested positive for measurable levels of harmful contaminants known as "forever chemicals" that are linked to cancer, liver damage, high blood pressure and other health threats.

In the Chicago area, Lake Forest, Waukegan, North Chicago, South Elgin and Crest Hill near Joliet are among the water systems that are showing readings of a class of chemicals known as PFAS, short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. In most cases, the levels are very low though the widespread presence is a concern, environmental and health advocates say.

 

"These findings confirm our fears that drinking water is a source of PFAS exposure for thousands of Illinois residents," said Sonya Lunder, a Sierra Club toxics expert who has worked on the issue nationally. "The state needs to urgently address these harmful exposures."

• For the full report, visit chicago.suntimes.com.

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