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Ohio River PFOA concentrations downstream were elevated, suggesting Mid-Ohio River Valley residents were exposed through drinking water, primarily contaminated by industrial discharges as far as 413 miles upstream, according to the researchers.
Pinney points out that the primary concern with chemical exposure is that they take a very long time to leave the human body, and studies indicate that exposure to these types of chemicals over certain levels may result in adverse health effects like developmental effects, liver and tissue damage and immune and thyroid issues.
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“Because the elimination time could be several years, it is hard to determine what impact these environmental exposures may have on our health and children’s health,” Pinney said. “These data from the 1990s demonstrate that that the contaminants have been in our water a long time, at unchecked levels, before anyone was paying attention to it.”