City refutes ‘inaccurate and misleading’ Harvard study
City officials are speaking out against an “inaccurate and misleading” Harvard study that claimed Newark’s drinking water contains an unsafe level of toxic chemicals.
The study, published last week, looked at the prevalence of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in America’s drinking water. PFASs are used in a variety of products like food wrappers, clothing and pots and pans. They have been linked to high cholesterol, cancer, obesity and other ailments, according to the Harvard researchers.
The study – which drew attention from a variety of national media outlets – specifically mentioned Newark’s water as having 25 times the recommended level of the chemicals.
However, city officials said the study used EPA data taken from a well near the New Castle Airport, which has no connection to the city of Newark’s water supply.
“The city of Newark is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its residents and visitors,” City Manager Carol Houck said in a prepared statement. “A recent Harvard study publication indicated unsafe levels of specific industrial chemicals had been detected in Newark’s drinking water — but the information is inaccurate and misleading.”
City spokeswoman Kelly Bachman explained that the data from the EPA was listed by zip code, and the researchers attributed the zip code in question to Newark, even though the well is not in city limits.
Houck said Newark participated in the EPA study, but no PFASs were found in the city’s water sup- ply, which is drawn from White Clay Creek and a well field on South Chapel Street, between Scottfield and Brookside.
“We are confident our water quality meets or exceeds quality standards and does not pose any risk to those who consume it,” Houck said.
Bachman added that the Harvard researchers agreed to correct the study after hearing the city’s concerns. She released a message she said the city received from Harvard.
“We appreciate that our press release may cause undue concern to the water consumers of Newark, DE,” the message reads. “Therefore we have removed from the Harvard press release the reference to your town. In addition, we have added additional information to the description of the map to help readers better understand what the map represents.”
Bachman said the city has heard from several concerned residents since the original study was released. She plans to request corrections from the national media outlets – such as CNN and CBS News – that mentioned Newark in their reporting of the study.