PFAS Threat to Drinking Water

2018-11-05T13:38:30+00:00 November 5th, 2018, 01:38pm|

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a class of emerging contaminants. The carbon-fluorine bond that exists in PFAS is one of the strongest bonds in nature. PFAS have been used extensively in many industries. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) protects public drinking water supplies across the United States. Under the SDWA, United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has regulated more than 90 drinking water contaminants. USEPA has the authority to set enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for specific chemicals and can require monitoring of public water supplies. The SDWA only applies to public water systems in the United States and does not apply to domestic drinking water wells.

There are currently no MCLs established for PFAS chemicals. Therefore, USEPA initiated steps to evaluate the need for an MCL for two specific PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), under the regulatory determination process. In the meantime, USEPA has issued a health advisory for PFOA and PFOS and established a Lifetime Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS, separately or combined, of 70 parts per trillion (ppt). In 2018, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) Remediation and Redevelopment Division established cleanup criteria for groundwater used as drinking water of 70 ppt of PFOA and PFOS, individually or combined.

The MDEQ is conducting testing in drinking water, groundwater, lakes and streams, soils, sediments, wastewater, and the PFAS foam that can accumulate at lakes and rivers. MDEQ is also partnering with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to test fish and wildlife. MDHHS works with local health departments to issue any necessary health advisories. As of September 26, 2018 there were at least 29 PFAS sites in Michigan.

Although the MDEQ is testing community water supplies (public water supplies and schools) as part of their initiative (including municipal supplies, nursing homes, apartments, mobile home parks, etc.), they are not testing non-community water supplies such as:

  • Industries;
  • Places of Employment;
  • Hotels and Restaurants;
  • Campgrounds;
  • Small Apartment Complexes, Condominiums, Duplexes, etc. and
  • Private Water Supplies.

Sample collection and handling for PFAS requires an experienced environmental professional to eliminate and reduce potential field issues that could impact analytical test results. To support our clients’ PFAS sample collection efforts, Superior provides sample collection services to ensure the proper sample volume is collected, with appropriate preservatives and sample containers, and that samples do not become cross-contaminated. Superior uses only laboratory-provided or approved PFAS-free bottles and sampling equipment.

Contact Superior today for your PFAS sampling needs for drinking water (using USEPA Method 537 Rev.1.1).