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
Q. What is the problem?
The Solvay facility in neighboring West Deptford has contaminated our public water supply system with perfluorochemical compounds (PFCs), and especially the PFC perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), at levels in excess of 100 parts per trillion (ppt). The sampling results are posted on the Borough’s web site.
Q. Is our water safe to drink and use?
In response to Paulsboro’s request, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued the attached letter and fact sheet (The “DEP Guidance”) concerning risks from PFCs in drinking water. ALL RESIDENTS SHOULD READ THE GUIDANCE CAREFULLY, PARTICULARLY THOSE WITH INFANTS WHO ARE ONE-YEAR-OLD OR YOUNGER.
Q. Does the Borough agree with DEP?
The Borough is seeking independent review of DEP’S statements on the risk to Paulsboro residents through its special environmental counsel, but THE BOROUGH URGES RESIDENTS TO, AT A MINIMUM, FOLLOW THE DEP GUIDANCE. Even if the water meets all applicable rules and health-based guidance, it is the Borough’s position that Paulsboro’s residents have a right to safe drinking water completely free of Solvay’s PFC waste.
Q. When was this discovered?
PFCs were first detected in Paulsboro’s drinking water in testing conducted by DEP in 2009.
Q. Why weren’t we told about this sooner?
The Borough only received guidance from DEP on January 17, 2014, after Mayor Hamilton requested such guidance in an urgent letter to Governor Christie on January 15, 2014.
Q. Where do these PFCs come from?
The Solvay facility in West Deptford manufactured, used and disposed of PFCs for years, and even has patented certain of these chemicals. Solvay is the only source of PFCs in the area that DEP has identified or that the Borough is aware of, and appears to have acknowledged its responsibility by testing and sampling for PFCs in soils and drinking water in Paulsboro and surrounding municipalities.
Q. Has this happened in any other communities?
Communities in Ohio and West Virginia have had their water supplies contaminated with PFCs linked to DuPont facilities in those states. For those communities, DuPont has agreed to treat the water or provide alternate drinking water supplies, as the Borough is asking Solvay to do.
Q. What are the mayor and council doing about it?
The mayor and council have a three-pronged strategy for this issue.
1. Community Right-to-Know: All test results and other relevant information about this issue will be posted on the Borough’s web site, made available at Borough Hall, or otherwise provided to the community.
2. Short-term actions: Mayor Hamilton has asked Governor Christie for the following immediate actions: a) direct DEP and the Department of Health (DOH) to have a public meeting to inform residents about the problem and any potential health impacts; b) have DEP order Solvay to provide and fund alternate drinking water for our residents, including bottled water for residents with infants who are one-year-old or less; and c) direct DOH to conduct health studies to determine if PFCs are showing up in the blood of residents.
3. Long-term solution: In December, the Borough’s special environmental counsel served notice on Solvay under federal law that it must pay for the costs of treating the Borough’s drinking water to remove PFCs, and to clean up other PFC contamination in ours soils and rivers, or the Borough will seek a court order forcing them to do so. This notice is also posted on the Borough’s web site.
Q. What is the Borough water department doing about this?
For the short term, the Borough of Paulsboro is working to reduce reliance on the wells showing a presence of PFCs. These actions will not eliminate the need for long-term treatment of water.
Q. What can I do to protect my family?
The Borough urges residents to continue to monitor the Borough’s web sites for additional information, and to attend any public information meetings convened by DEP and/or DOH.
Q. Could the PFCs be related to the 2012 Conrail train derailment?
The PFCs are completely unrelated to the November 2012 Conrail train derailment.
Source: Borough of Paulsboro Website
I am writing to update you about the presence of perfluorochemical compounds (PFCs) in our public drinking water supply.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has recently issued a health advisory and fact sheet (HERE), which among other information recommends that bottled water be provided to infants under one year of age and that bottled water be used for infant formula. Please review the NJDEP Advisory carefully, and follow its direction.
To ensure that residents affected by the NJDEP Advisory do not have to bear the cost of bottled water, the Solvay facility in neighboring West Deptford has voluntarily agreed to make free bottled water available to qualified residents through the Weiss True Value Hardware Store at 39 W. Broad Street. Residents need only sign-in, indicate whether they have one or more children up to one year of age living with them, and show proof of residence to receive free cases of bottled water.
The Borough is implementing additional treatment measures at our wells that will allow us to reduce or eliminate the presence of PFCs in the water supply near term, possibly relieving the need for bottled water by the end of April.
In the meantime, the Borough Council and I are seeking additional guidance from agencies and independent experts other than NJDEP, and following the three-prong strategy outlined in my previous letter to ensure that we eliminate any risk from PFC contamination on a long-term basis.
As I have said, the Borough Council and I are fighting to protect your right to clean, safe drinking water.
W. Jeffery Hamilton
Borough of Paulsboro
1211 Delaware Street
Paulsboro, NJ 08066
Text START to (856) 270-7883.
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