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Toxic’ water warning: Contaminated supply could cause type 2 diabetes – thousands at risk

THOUSANDS of UK residents have been exposed to toxic contaminated water in their homes.

PFOS is a synthetic chemical that has been associated with health risks such as high cholesterol, low birth weight and suppressed immune response. Those exposed to the chemical are also at higher risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Jamie DeWitt, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at East Carolina University in the US, said: “People who have been consistently consuming water at [these levels] will have increased risk of certain types of diseases that have been linked to epidemiological studies … including changes in cholesterol … [and] reduced vaccine antibody responses, which is concerning because we really need our immune system to be working really well right now”, The Guardian reported. Some 7,000 residents living in Strapleford and Shelford claimed they heard nothing from Cambridge Water, despite the company knowing about the contamination last June. Cambridge Water said that while investigations were being carried out, it “had not told the community”. The water supply company monitors chemicals in the water at their sites on a 1-4 tiered basis, tier one being the lowest risk and four the worst.

Sampling surveys were undertaken at their sites to establish whether there was any risk to customers in Cambridge. They found that houses in Duxford airfield came in the tier 3 category – four times the Drinking Water Inspectorate’s safe limit. Elinor Cordiner, head of drinking water quality and compliance at Cambridge Water, said that “water supplies from this source have always been blended with other sources before reaching our customers”.

“This means that levels of PFAS at customer taps were at, or around, the tier 1 (lowest risk) level”, reported the Sun.

After removing the contaminated water from its supply chain in June, Cambridge Water said it was “unable to guarantee a blend below 100ng/l” – the safe limit according to The Drinking Water Inspectorate.

The company will not say how long the villages have been drinking the contaminated water, only that sampling undertaken in 2020 suggested the levels were below the 100ng/l limit, but would not give an exact concentration level. Tony Fletcher, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said PFOS accumulate in the body and takes a “very long time to leach them out”.

Public Health reports detail the health implications on animals exposed to PFOS including “effects on the stomach, liver and thyroid hormones”, and at very levels could increase the risk of cancer.

However, there is sparse information from human studies. Philippe Grandjean, an environmental health professor at Harvard, said people drinking the water would not be “poisoned” but would increase the risks of non-communicable disease.

He warned that it could cause “endocrine disruption, like thyroid gland problems – there may be problems with a host of diseases like you’re at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity”.

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