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Chemicals found in local water prompt new alerts to customers

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Potentially dangerous chemical compounds and HEDP detected for the first time in area drinking water prompted Dayton and Montgomery County to notify their customers. The discovery also prompted a warning from an independent expert.

“I would say it’s something for the people and for the city to start to pay attention to, and to keep paying attention to,” said Rita Loch-Caruso, a professor of toxicology in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan.

Dayton supplies water for about 400,000 people to drink, including those in the city and those in other Montgomery County areas who get their water through Dayton.The city and the county are notifying users about the presence of polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) after testing of treated water leaving the city’s Ottawa Water Treatment Plant in March detected PFAS at a level of 7 to 13 parts per trillion, or ppt.

Officials stress that level is significantly below the EPA health advisory limit of 70 ppt for lifetime exposure, but it marks the first time PFAS have been detected in water after the treatment process.

Loch-Caruso, also a professor of environmental health, said that if she lived in Dayton, “I’d pay attention.”PFAS are in a substance once used as a firefighting foam at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and at the Dayton Fire Training Center, 200 McFadden Ave. The chemical has infiltrated groundwater and prompted the shutdown of multiple Dayton water wells as a precaution.

“We certainly don’t know everything there is to know about PFAS, and PFAS are a difficult group of chemicals to study because there are so many variations of them,” Loch-Caruso said.

She said it’s too soon to recommend buying new household water filtration systems as a precautionary measure. She said similar levels of PFAS have been found in Ann Arbor drinking water, where she lives, and she has not purchased a filtration system.

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