Elevated cancer causing chemicals have been found in the water being piped in to six Middlesex County towns.

Middlesex Water Company confirmed levels of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) exceeds "acceptable state-mandated standards" in water being supplied to Carteret, Clark, Edison, Metuchen, South Plainfield and Woodbridge.

Woodbridge began notifying residents via their emergency alert system last night.

In a statement, the water company urged caution drinking the water, especially for those who are pregnant or have a compromised immune system:

  • If you have specific health concerns, a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at higher risk than other individuals and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.
  • The New Jersey Department of Health advises that infant formula and other beverages for infants, such as juice, should be prepared with bottled water when PFOA is elevated in drinking water.
  • Pregnant, nursing, and women considering having children may choose to use bottled water for drinking and cooking to reduce exposure to PFOA.
  • Other people may also choose to use bottled water for drinking and cooking to reduce exposure to PFOA or a home water filter that is certified to reduce levels of PFOA.
  • Home water treatment devices are available that can reduce levels of PFOA.

Bathing, showering or washing clothes with the water poses minimal risk, the company said.

PFOA's have been linked to multiple illnesses in both children and adults, including birth defects and cancer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, exposure to PFOA "may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breast-fed infants (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations), cancer (e.g., testicular, kidney), liver effects (e.g., tissue damage), immune effects (e.g., antibody production and immunity), thyroid effects and other effects (e.g., cholesterol changes)."

Boiling the water will not remove the chemicals. PFOA must be removed through advanced filtration.

Middlesex Water Company has been working on a $47 million upgrade to their filtration system, but it is not expected to be on-line until mid-2023.

The source of PFOA is most likely post-consumer or industrial. Used in common household items like non-stick cookware, they most likely leach into the water system through groundwater contamination.

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