Back in October of 2019, a water department located around Falmouth, MA, reported improperly stored asbestos pipes were lying exposed inside a laydown yard on storage area grounds on water department property. The discovery prompted samples to be taken of the water supply out of some of the hydrants and systems inside the district. Upon discovery, one hydrant tested three times the recommended limit for asbestos fiber contamination on a per liter basis.
EPA Asbestos Standards
The measurement of water contaminated with asbestos is determined by measuring the number of fibers per liter of water. EPA standards currently set at 7 million fibers or less per liter in order to be deemed safe to drink without resulting in collaborating long term health problems at this measured amount in drinking water. In comparison, the airborne fiber measurement is 10 million fibers or less to be deemed a non-contaminated area.
Water Tested and Results Submitted
Accordingly, the other hydrants tested at or below the EPA standard for asbestos fiber contamination in a water supply. Rafferty stated, “that the water department had been flushing the hydrants several times a year, but the whole system has not been flushed completely at this time.” In turn, a hydrant sample returned with results showing around 21 million fibers per liter. Water Superintendent, Steve Rafferty claims the pipes stored on the water department property were not a reflection of why the results at that particular hydrant tested three times above the fiber limit.
At the present time, a second lab sample was submitted and has currently not been returned with a result. Once tested, the second sample should be available in two weeks, according to Water Superintendent Steve Rafferty. In the meantime, local residents are not happy with the two-week waiting period for the lab results, in which the district is waiting to get back before they take any further action. Some local residents believe the water department should pay for the testing of any individual homeowner or citizen that wants to determine if their faucet is over the EPA asbestos fiber limit. Although citizens are not satisfied with the water department’s current action, according to federal law, they have 30 days to inform the public that the water supply is above the EPA standard level.
Asbestos Contamination in Water
Studies have shown that ingestion of asbestos fibers from drinking water is less harmful than inhaling the fibers, but do not let the lesser effects of ingestion by water fool you, overtime the asbestos may still cause peritoneal mesothelioma which is rare cancer affecting the abdominal lining of the body. Although the potency of taking the fibers in by water is less harmful in comparison to airborne exposure to asbestos, the effects can be severe.
One of the best ways to safeguard your and monitor your drinking water is to request or receive an annual water quality report from your local water authority. The EPA also publishes a list of water quality violations that are available to be viewed by the public. Lastly, using a faucet water filter will also help or reduce the risk of exceeding acceptable levels of asbestos fiber contamination in water.
Be Informed About Water Quality And Asbestos Contamination
To stay informed, please utilize the surrounding resources available either locally or online. If you do believe that you or a loved one have suffered any effects or are subject to harmful effects of asbestos exposure either due to water ingestion or airborne exposures, please contact your local water authority or an experienced mesothelioma attorney.