DEP: 2nd Round Of PFAS Sampling At 114 Public Water System Sites: 65% No PFAS, None Of Sites Above Federal Limits

On March 12, the Department of Environmental Protection released the second round of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl-- PFAS-- testing at 114 public water system locations around the state which found no PFAS at 65 percent of the sites and none of the remaining sites were above federal limits.

In February 2019, DEP determined the federal PFAS standard was inadequate and started the process for developing its own maximum contaminant level.  Read more here.

DEP has identified 493 public water system sources as potential sampling sites because they meet the criterion of being located within a half mile of a potential source of PFAS contamination, such as military bases, fire training sites, landfills, and manufacturing facilities.

The sampling was completed as a result of Gov. Wolf's September 2018 executive order to address Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in drinking water, the Wolf Administration today provided an update on the actions taken on this emerging environmental issue and released the results of the second round of drinking water samples.

“In the interest of public and environmental safety, we are continuing to make strides to ensure that we can determine PFAS contamination levels in Pennsylvania. Although COVID-19 has impacted us all, it has not prevented us from making progress,” said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

In the latest round of public water system sampling conducted by DEP, PFAS were not detected in 65 percent of the 114 sites sampled. Of the sites with detections, seven PFAS were detected.

The seven PFAS that were detected are: Perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS), Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). 

None of the results are above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Health Advisory Level (HAL) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for the combined concentrations of PFOS and PFOA.

Results were non-detect for the other 11 PFAS that were tested.

These 11 PFAS are: 11-chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid (11Cl-PF3OUdS), 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanone-1-fulfonic acid (9Cl-PF3ONS), 4,8-dioxa-3H-perfluorononanoic acid (ADONA), Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA), N-ethyl perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetic acid (NEtFOSAA), N-methyl perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetic acid (NMeFOSAA), Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), Perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA), Perfluorotetradecanoic acid (PFTA), Perfluorotridecanoic acid (PFTrDA), and Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnA).

The statewide public water system sampling plan began in June 2019. Samples collected by DEP were analyzed by an accredited laboratory for six PFAS chemicals: PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS, PFHpA, and PFBS. 

Sampling was temporarily suspended from March 2020 to July 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting business closures and travel restrictions established under the Governor’s Emergency Declaration.

Sampling resumed in August 2020 under an approved health and safety plan. 

DEP expects that sample collection activities will be completed by the end of March 2021. 

For the sampling conducted in 2020, the analysis method used was changed from EPA Method 537, which detects only six PFAS, to EPA Method 537.1, which can detect 18 PFAS. This change was made to obtain additional occurrence data, so samples were recollected from all of the facilities that were sampled in 2019.

DEP has identified 493 public water system sources as potential sampling sites because they meet the criterion of being located within a half mile of a potential source of PFAS contamination, such as military bases, fire training sites, landfills, and manufacturing facilities.

Of those 493 potential sampling sites, DEP’s public water system sampling plan will ultimately test approximately 360 sources of public drinking water for PFAS contamination.

DEP will also test approximately 40 public drinking water sources that are not located within a half mile of a potential source of PFAS contamination to establish a baseline.

In September 2018, the governor signed an executive order establishing the PFAS Action Team, moving Pennsylvania to the forefront of states taking proactive steps to address PFAS and other contaminants.

Led by the Action Team, the administration has taken steps to identify and address contamination and establish a cleanup plan to address PFAS contamination, including:

-- Beginning the process of setting a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS. This will mark the first time that DEP has set an MCL rather than adopting standards set by the federal government, as it has with all other regulated drinking water contaminants;

-- Hiring toxicologists at the Department of Health and contracting for additional toxicologist services to move forward with setting a state limit for PFAS in drinking water;

-- Taking steps to address remediation of the chemicals by working to change groundwater and soil remediation standards for three PFAS compounds;

-- Taking steps to assist communities and private well owners with PFAS contamination above the EPA’s HAL for PFOS and PFOA of 70 ppt;

-- Developing uniform, science-based operating procedures to guide the identification and assessment of commercial and industrial properties that have contaminated private and/or public drinking water sources;

-- Approving more than $20 million in grants to address PFAS groundwater contamination; and

-- Testing all water supplies to Pennsylvania Army National Guard facilities and state-owned homes for veterans for PFAS – while all sample results returned with non-detectable levels of PFAS, the water wells will continue to be monitored.

For more information, visit DEP’s PFAS In PA webpage.

Related Articles:

-- Gov. Wolf Promotes Free Testing For Lead In Drinking Water For Schools, Child Care Programs Thru PennVEST Funding

-- PUC Fully Lifts Utility Service Termination Moratorium, Adds Safeguards To Help Households, Small Businesses Address Past-Due Utility Bills

-- PUC Recognizes Fix A Leak Week, Highlights Importance Of Safe Drinking Water, Efficiency, Conservation

[Posted: March 12, 2021]


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