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About the Contaminants found at Lake Niapenco & near the Airport

What is PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) & Propylene Glycol

Information about PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid)

PFOS is part of a large group of perfluorinated compounds that have been detected worldwide in the environment and living organisms, including remote locations such the Canadian Arctic. This group of chemicals can accumulate in organisms and has been widely used as water, soil, oil and grease repellants for carpets, fabric, and upholstery; food packaging, as well fire fighting foams, etc. While still produced globally, manufacturing and direct use in Canada has been largely phased out.

Hamilton Public Health Services believes that the levels of PFOS found in Lake Niapenco fish and sediments do not represent a further risk to public health beyond the fish consumption restrictions. It is generally accepted that people are exposed to PFOS to varying degrees through air, dust, food and water. It is known that urban residents tend to have higher blood levels of PFOS than rural residents. This is thought to be a result of exposure to industrial sources of PFOS. Health Canada indicates that nearly all Canadians likely have some level of PFOS in their blood.

PFOS and chemicals like it are very stable and are unique because they repel oil, grease, and water. They have commonly been used for surface protection for products such as carpets, clothes, paper, and cardboard packaging (sometimes for foods). They do not exist in nature and breakdown to simpler components very slowly. They are found in all people to some degree or another depending on our habits, lifestyles, and workplaces. Long-term exposures to PFOS at workplaces has not shown any significant increase in adverse health effects; short term studies in populations that drank water with elevated PFOS did not show any increase in clinical problems. However, the information available is not excessive and not thorough. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends a limit of 0.2 ppb for PFOS in water (0.2 micrograms per litre). PFOS is found in food packaging, treated clothing and carpeting. Therefore, most people will have an approximate daily intake of 30 nanograms of PFOS per kilogram of body weight per day (about 3 micrograms per day for a 100 kg person). Nanograms and micrograms are very small units of measure; one nanogram is equal to one trillionth of one kilogram. For the most part, studies have not shown any adverse health effects in very high exposure groups such as carpet manufacturers, carpet installers, who are exposed to much higher levels than the general population.

Information about Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is generally recognized as safe. It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, and food products. It is also a solvent for colours and flavours added to processed foods. It is practically odourless and tasteless and is not at all volatile. It breaks down within days in the environment. Propylene glycol is detrimental to aquatic environments because it depletes oxygen levels in the water which can cause death to aquatic vegetation and wildlife. According to the World Health Organization the acceptable human dietary intake for propylene glycol is 25 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (about 2 grams per day for an adult). If propylene glycol has entered any drinking water supplies it is very doubtful that the amount would come anywhere close to the World Health Organization acceptable dietary intake or, even come close to what people are exposed to as they consume prepared foods, or use medications and cosmetics. Propylene glycol has not been detected in drinking water supplies, and there is no evidence to indicate that propylene glycol has entered any drinking water supplies.

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