The issue casting doubt on the potability of Pensacola’s water centers on a pair of substances from the per- and polyfluoroalkyl class of chemicals known as perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOA and PFOS. The contaminants are not regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act or Florida statute, which means the substances can legally appear in the state’s drinking water.
The chemicals have been used in products like Teflon and firefighting foam. Their presence has previously been documented in the Pensacola region’s drinking water and in other sites across the country. The Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent health advisory for the substances in 2016 warns that certain levels of exposure have been linked to developmental effects to fetuses or breastfed infants, various cancers, liver damage and immune disorders.
And an investigation of federal emails published by Politico this month has now revealed health officials believe the chemicals pose a threat to human health at lower levels of exposure than previously thought.