MOULTON, AL (WAFF) - Nearly six years after a chemical company reported an accidental spill into a Decatur water treatment plant, the effects are just now being understood.
In 2007, a plant manufacturing PFC's notified the EPA that they inadvertently discharged large amounts of perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCA) into the Decatur Utilities' Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant removes solids and chemicals from the wastewater it treats. These "biosolids" were used to fertilize fields in the area.
According to a report issued today from the EPA, "Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are a class of man-made chemicals. In most cases, PFCs are not regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). PFCs have been used for many years to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water. Because of their widespread use, most people in the United States have some PFCs in their body. Once the PFCs are in a person's body, it takes about two to four years before those PFC levels go down by half, even if no more is taken in."
The EPA went into action, studying soil, water, and people around the plant for the chemicals. Over the course of two years, they found elevated levels of PFCs in ground water, surface water and soil.
As far as the people tested, here are the findings from the group contracted by the EPA to investigate :
-Five PFCs in the blood were at levels similar to or lower than the average levels in a person in the United
· Three PFCs (PFOA, PFOS and PFHx) in the blood were two to four times higher than average levels in the United States. These levels were similar to or lower than levels found in other U.S. communities with PFCs in their drinking water.
· This investigation found that drinking well or public water with detectable levels of PFCs may contribute to an increase in blood PFC levels. The investigation did not show that living on or near a biosolids application field, eating local cattle, fish or vegetables or gardening are associated with blood PFC levels in participants. However the investigation could not exclude these possible sources of exposure.
· Older people and men tended to have higher blood PFC levels than others tested.
It's worth noting that the study adds there are no clear links between PFCs and specific illnesses. "Recent studies have found possible links to some PFC-related health problems. Science experts who work in this field need to do more research." the report states.
There is a meeting scheduled to discuss the report and the spill. It's being held on Tuesday, April 2nd from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM at the Moulton Recreation Center, 13550 Court Street, Moulton, AL.