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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Sept. 30, 2023

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Washington Department of Health launches website on ‘forever chemicals’

By , Columbian staff writer

The Washington Department of Health has launched a dashboard full of data highlighting the public water systems statewide that contain “forever chemicals,” or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

PFAS, the shorthand term for the thousands of chemicals included in this group, are harmful human-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body.

The Department of Health’s website, www.doh.wa.gov/data-and-statistical-reports/washington-tracking-network-wtn/pfas/dashboard, displays a map of all water systems’ sampling progress, subsequent findings and whether action has been taken to address contamination.

“One of the first steps to knowing if you need to act to protect your health from PFAS in drinking water is knowing if you are exposed,” Holly Myers, Office of Drinking Water director, said in a statement Wednesday. “Testing data is important because it allows Washingtonians to make decisions to protect themselves if PFAS have been found in their water.”

A successful board of health rule, adopted in 2021, required more than 2,400 water systems to complete PFAS testing before 2025.

In 2020, the city of Vancouver found that 36 of its 40 wells contained some level of the chemicals, leading officials to create a PFAS management plan, which is currently under development. The strategy includes plans to install a treatment system at Water Station 14, which has the highest concentration of PFAS. Other stations exceeding Washington’s state action levels include Water Stations 4 and 15.