Thursday, June 3, 2021

DEP: Final Sampling Results Do Not Show Widespread PFAS Contamination In Public Water Supply Systems Above Standard

On June 3, The Department of Environmental Protection released the
complete and final list of results of samples collected from public water systems which do not indicate widespread PFAS contamination in those systems.

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.

“Sampling allows us to gain a better understanding of the prevalence of PFAS within the Commonwealth,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “These results will help us determine how to further address this emerging environmental issue, including developing an appropriate metric to remediate and protect our public water systems.”

The statewide sampling plan began in June 2019. Samples collected by DEP were analyzed by an accredited laboratory for six PFAS chemicals: Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), and Perfluorobutane sulfonate (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.  Sample collection activities were completed by the end of March 2021.

For the sampling conducted beginning in 2020, the analysis method used was changed from EPA Method 537 (detects only 6 PFAS) to EPA Method 537.1 because this method can detect 18 PFAS. 

This change was made in order to generate additional occurrence data, so samples were recollected from all of the facilities that were sampled in 2019.

DEP 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, DEP tested 372 targeted sites and 40 sites that were not located within a half mile of a potential source of PFAS contamination to establish a baseline.

Of the PFAS chemicals sampled, PFOS and PFOA were most common, being detected at 103 and 112 sites, respectively. 

Of the sites with detections, only eight PFAS were detected. The eight PFAS that were detected are: PFOS, PFOA PFNA, PFHxS, PFHpA, PFBS, Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), and Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnA). 

Of the 412 total samples, two of the results were above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Health Advisory Level (HAL) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for the combined concentrations of PFOS and PFOA: State of the Art, Inc. in Centre County, and Saegertown Borough in Crawford County.  

Results were non-detect for the other 10 PFAS that were tested.

Click Here for the sample results spreadsheet.

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

Related Article:

-- Environmental Quality Board To Consider Moving Ahead With PFOA MCL; Final PFOA/PFOS Soil & Groundwater Cleanup Standard June 15

[Posted: June 3, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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