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Chemicals used in carpet cleaners, non-stick pans found in Atascadero water

Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 14:45:38-04

Chemicals that have been linked to cancer and higher cholesterol have been found in the drinking water in Atascadero, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

However, the Atascadero Mutual Water Company says there isn't an immediate threat to the community.

The chemicals are in everyday products like pizza boxes, non-stick pots and pans, carpet cleaners, and even make-up.

The State Water Resources Control Board recently asked cities to test for these particles.

"They directed us to sample for this particular substance, which we did and we did have a detection. The detection is below what they consider a health advisory level, but they're still there," explained John Neil, General Manager of the Atascadero Mutual Water Company.

Polyflouroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are man-made chemicals that can cause negative health effects if ingested, according to the EPA.

The E.P.A. says the chemicals tend to build up and stay in the body for long periods of time.

Neil says the information on these chemicals is still preliminary.

"We haven't had to go out and notify the public because we really don't know what it means yet," he said.

Neil says he'll by told by the state water board and the Environmental Protection Agency when to let the community know that the chemicals are a concern.

In the meantime, some residents in Atascadero remain comfortable drinking from the tap.

"I feel confident that the water company, that the water engineers of Atascadero address issues as they come up, but I felt confident using the tap water or drinking the tap water for the past 36 years," said Jean Collins, Atascadero resident.

Others are more concerned.

"I don't drink tap water at this particular point in time. Until this is all worked out, I'm not sure that I ever will," said Debbie McNair, Atascadero resident.

McNair says she's avoided the city's tap water for decades.

She says after hearing there are PFAS chemicals in the area, she'll be making additional changes.

"Not only continue to buy bottled water for personal consumption, but also change my habits when it comes to things like making coffee and use a bottled water for the coffee until it gets resolved," she said.

Neil says the Atascadero Mutual Water Company is now required to sample its water quarterly for the next year, to test for those chemicals.

Water company officials say further tests could show that the chemicals are gone but if not, options include blending the water or closing contaminated wells. The Atascadero Mutual Water Company posted this additional information on its website.

The chemicals were also reportedly found in the water at Vandenberg Air Force Base and 72 other communities across California.