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Correction for NY Times drinking water error

A Jan. 6, 2015 New York Times Magazine article, The Lawyer Who Became
DuPont’s Worst Nightmare, erroneously reported that the manufactured fluro-chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been detected in Seattle’s drinking water supply.

PFOAs have been sampled for—and not found—in Seattle’s drinking water. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) provides pure mountain drinking water to approximately 1.3 million people in the metropolitan region.

In making its claim, The Times cited a table published by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG table was reprinted directly from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) online database. In fact, neither the EWG table nor the EPA database make any mention of Seattle.

Under the EPA’s Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3), SPU has taken two samples (one for each surface water supply, the Cedar River and Tolt River watersheds) each quarter in 2015, for a total of eight samples. Six perfluorinated compounds (including PFOA) were sampled for and not detected.

SPU has requested a correction from The New York Times. According to The Times, their corrections process can often take several days.