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Facts about PFAS

Click on a topic below to view the answers.

What are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)?

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of more than 6,000 manmade chemicals used in the manufacture of a wide variety of industrial and household products designed to resist heat, water, oil and stains. A wide variety of products are made with PFAS, including non-stick cookware, food packaging, personal care products and water-resistant apparel.

Is PFAS regulated in drinking water?

Currently, there are no federal or state water quality regulations for any PFAS. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for combined concentrations of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water, which are classified as PFAS.

The EPA’s lifetime health advisory states that if water testing results confirm drinking water contains PFOA and PFOS at individual or combined concentrations greater than 70 ppt, water systems should quickly conduct additional sampling and testing to assess the level, scope and source of contamination.

Has PWCSA tested its drinking water for PFAS?

In May 2021, the Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA) voluntarily participated in a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) study to analyze for PFAS in water samples collected from the distribution systems of the 17 largest water utilities in the state. PWCSA collected samples from its East and West systems and sent them to an independent laboratory selected by VDH for testing. The test results are shown in the table below.

What actions are the EPA and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) taking regarding PFAS?

EPA

In February 2021, the EPA issued a final determination to regulate PFOA and PFAS in drinking water. The agency also proposed to require water utilities monitor for 29 PFAS compounds in drinking water. In April 2021, the agency announced the establishment of the EPA Council on PFAS to develop a national strategy to protect public health and make recommendations regarding PFAS.

VDH

In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed two bills (HB 586 and HB 1257) that directed the VDH’s Office of Drinking Water (ODW) to study the occurrence, health effects and treatability of PFAS compounds in public drinking water and to adopt maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for some PFAS compounds.

What is PWCSA doing about PFAS?

PWCSA looks forward to receiving further guidance from the EPA and VDH, and it will take all necessary actions to meet future federal and state drinking water regulations for PFAS when they have been established.

How does PFAS get into drinking water sources?

PFAS typically enters drinking water sources (lakes, rivers, wells, etc.) through storm water runoff and wastewater originating from facilities where PFAS chemicals were produced or used.

How can I limit my exposure to PFAS?

  • Read labels and try to avoid using products with PFAS, like some non-stick cookware, paints, degreasers, and fire-fighting foams, as well as products like waterproof and water-resistant clothing, certain cosmetics, stain-resistant upholstery and carpet and food packaged in grease-proof wrappers or containers.
  • Avoid products containing ingredients listed as PTFE or perfluoro-, or polyfluor-.
  • Support efforts to protect drinking water sources from PFAS.

Where can I learn more about PFAS?

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