It's called PFOA, short for perfluorooctanoic acid, and it's everywhere. There are trace amounts in microwave popcorn and non stick cookware. There's a nine in ten chance it's in your blood, the stuff has even turned up in the artic. It's also found in fresh water. What's unique about the Conasauga River is the volume of PFOA researchers found in the river. A recent University of Georgia Study, spearheaded by Aaron Fisk, shows PFOA levels at 1.5 parts per billion.
"It's amongst the highest concentration ever measured at a non spill site. These are the if not, then among the highest amounts ever measured in a water system."
Fisk's team of researchers concluded the PFOA came from sprinklers that spread effluent on more than nine thousand forested acres. This area is known as Looper's Bend, part of Dalton Utilities' wastewater land application system, where about 32 million gallons of wastewater are processed a day. The idea is plants and land will soak up much of the solids in the water. Yet, some of the treated waste water produces runoff.
In some areas, it drips down into the river.
In other areas, there are fast moving creeks, running over smooth rocks.
The municipality declined to comment. Dalton Utilities issued a statement about PFOA, noting PFOA is not regulated.
PFOA originates in Dalton's carpet manufacturing facilities. The chemical compound is described by a carpet executive as an unwanted byproduct created during the manufacturing of STAINMASTER and other stain resistant carpet. It is important to know these carpets are safe, and pose no health risks. The carpet executive told GPB they can't operate without the chemical.