Basic information about about PFOA, PFOS and other PFAS/PFCs; how people are exposed; health effects; laws and regs that apply; and what EPA and states are doing to reduce exposures.
Drinking Water Facts: Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) in Drinking Water:
What levels of PFCs found in drinking water are safe to drink?
USEPA has issued a lifetime drinking water Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS of 70 parts per trillion (ppt)or (ng/L) either individually or when concentrations of PFOA and PFOS are combined. A Health Advisory identifies the concentration of a contaminant in drinking water at which adverse health effects are not anticipated to occur.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) developed a guideline for chronic (lifetime) exposures to PFOA of 40 ppt (ng/L). NJDEP has also established an interim specific ground water criterion for PFNA of 10 ppt (ng/L).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Contact Information:
What are perfluoroalkyls?
Perfluoroalkyls are stable, synthetic chemicals. Perfluoroalkyls are unique because they repel oil, grease, and water. The two perfluoroalkyls made in the largest amounts in the U.S. are perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).
How can PFCs be removed from water?
Filters containing activated carbon or reverse osmosis units have been shown to be effective at removing PFCs from water supplies where they have been used and tested.
MDH has conducted a study of point of use water treatment devices – for more information see the information sheet entitled, "MDH Evaluation of Point-of-Use Water Treatment Devices for Perfluorochemical Removal Final Report - Summary" (PDF: 205KB/6 pages).
Other types of common water treatment systems, such as water softeners, are not likely to remove PFCs. Boiling the water will not remove the PFCs.
If you are interested in installing a water treatment system of any sort, be sure to work with a reputable supplier and check references.
Source: Minnesota Department of Health
See also: Recommendation on Perfluorinated Compound Treatment Options for Drinking Water
Important update from Tracy Carluccio at Delaware Riverkeeper Network: Some of you got an email in August from me about the NJDEP proposed safe drinking water standard, also called a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) being proposed for PFNA. The comment period is open on this through 5pm on October 6. This is a reminder of the due date, or if you are just hearing about this, a request that you consider submitting a comment to NJDEP in support of the adoption by the state of a mandatory safe drinking water standard or MCL for PFNA.
As you may know, the NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute finished their studies and recommended a MCL of 13ppt 2 years ago. NJ is finalizing this by proposing to make a rule that sets a MCL for PFNA for all of New Jersey. This standard is more strict than what is being used as guidance now. So this will require all drinking water systems in NJ to be regularly tested for PFNA and water that is found to be contaminated with PFNA at 13ppt or greater has to be treated so it’s removed to below that level.
My organization, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, engaged an independent toxicologist when the Institute did their study and we are recommending an even stricter standard of between 3 and 5 ppt. Activated carbon treatment, which some your municipalities now have, removes PFNA to non-detect if it is operated properly. Some municipalities are “blending” water (diluting contaminated water by adding water with no or less PFNA) to keep the concentration of PFNA down. But currently there is no mandatory requirement to do this – the adoption of a MCL will make removal of PFNA to below the adopted MCL standard a requirement for all water suppliers. Water suppliers will have to report to consumers what the sampling of the water shows.
There is also a MCL being proposed for 1,2,3-TCP, which has been found in Burlington County – now all water systems in NJ will have to be tested for that chemical too and have it removed.
Information on these MCLs and other aspects of the proposed changes to the state’s Safe Drinking Water Standards can be found at DRN’s action alert where there is a link to all relevant information and some talking points for people to use to make comment. Here is the link: http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/node/4977
For convenience, here is the link to the NJDEP rulemaking: http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/notices/20170807b.html
The comment period for this rule is open to October 6, 5:00 pm. If you can make a comment supporting that DEP adopt a MCL, that will be most helpful. How to do that is explained in our action alert. The more support shown for the adoption of a MCL, the better, so please share this information with others. It is very powerful for the regulators to hear comments from people who have been exposed to contaminated drinking water – you are the impacted community members and have special influence because of what you have been – and in some cases – are still going through. So, your comment really matters. The Talking Points we provide on our action alert will help you write a letter but expressing your own thoughts and saying you have been exposed and want this toxic chemical regulated and removed from your water is the most important thing.
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
925 Canal St., Suite 3701
Bristol PA 19007
Phone: 215.369.1188 ext 104
March 13, 2014
In a proactive move, and as a result of a voluntary, precautionary test performed by Solvay Solexus, a West Deptford based chemical company, the City of Woodbury will temporarily not utilize one of their five (5) active wells used for the public water supply. Solvay, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, recently began similar tests in some surrounding communities as a result of the possible contamination of the water supply by their facility. The results found in one of the City’s wells was less than what was found in other municipalities, but nonetheless the City is taking pre-emptive action and gathering more information from our entire water supply system to ensure the highest level of public safety.
The City’s water supply is, as it always has been, in full compliance with all federal and state regulations and health standards. It is important to note that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has not set any standards for the elements that showed positive in the one recent test, and has not made any declaration regarding the safety of either drinking or using the City water.
Once City officials were first made aware of a reading of PFNA in our water, the affected well ceased to be used as part of the normal rotation of five (5) wells that service the City. The remaining wells tested showed a marginal, if any, level of the contaminant in question and remain in use.
The City is continuing to work diligently with the NJDEP, Solvay, and our neighboring communities to compile as accurate information as possible for its residents, and will continue to inform the public as more information becomes available.
Questions can be forwarded to:
Michael Theokas, City Administrator
856.845.1300 extension 120
Text START to (856) 270-7883.
A Reference Librarian will respond as time permits during normal business hours. Charges from your provider may apply.