100,000 people in Alabama exposed to water contamination
A water provider in northern Alabama warned more than 100,000 customers on Thursday not to drink or cook with tap water, saying it could be contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of a chemical that federal health officials have linked to cancer, according to local media reports.
The warning issued by the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority, 40 miles south of Alabama's border with Tennessee, comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an advisory on May 19 that lowered the safe level for compounds known as PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
The manmade compounds can be found in nonstick cookware, waterproof clothes, carpet sealants and firefighting foams, according to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which is monitoring the situation.
Direct exposure to unsafe levels of the chemicals could result in developmental deficiencies including skeletal variations and low birth weights in fetuses or breastfed infants, according to the EPA advisory.
It could also cause cancer, liver and thyroid damage and problems with the immune system, the advisory said.
In a news conference, the water authority's general manager, Don Sims, said the board on Thursday accepted his recommendation to warn residents not to use the water, according to a report by the Decatur Daily.