Notice and Status Updates Regarding PFOA/PFOS
Updated June 24, 2022
On June 15, 2022 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new lifetime health advisories for four Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), replacing the health advisories that the EPA issued in 2016. New interim health advisories have been issued for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) which are drastically lower that the 2016 health advisories of 70 parts per trillion. Final health advisories have been issued for Hexafluoropropylene Oxide Dimer Acid and its Ammonium Salt (also known as “GenX Chemicals”) and Perfluorobutane Sulfonate (PFBS). These new advisory levels are:
|Lifetime Health Advisory Level/Value (parts per trillion or ppt)
What is a Health Advisory?
A health advisory provides information on a contaminant that can cause negative human health effects and is known or anticipated to occur in drinking water. EPA's health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory. They provide technical information to drinking water system operators, as well as federal, state, Tribal, and local officials, on the health effects, analytical methods, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contaminants. This health effects information includes the concentrations of such drinking water contaminants (the health advisory “levels” or “values”) at which adverse health effects are not anticipated to occur over specific exposure durations, such as one-day, 10-days or a lifetime.
EPA’s health advisory levels offer information that may be used to protect people from adverse health effects resulting from exposure throughout their lives to contaminants in drinking water. These new health advisories will remain in place until the EPA establishes a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation, which we understand will be announced later this year. Thereafter, the City will have time to come into compliance with whatever the final regulations are, possibly through 2026.
What are PFAS?
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large and diverse group of chemicals used in many commercial applications due to their unique properties, such as resistance to high and low temperatures, resistance to degradation, and nonstick characteristics. Although PFAS have been manufactured and used broadly in commerce since the 1940s, concern over potential adverse effects on human health grew in the early 2000s with the detection of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in human blood. Since that time, hundreds of different PFAS have been found in water, soil, and air. Many PFAS are made up of long chains of carbon-fluorine bonds, such as PFOA and PFOS, are environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative, and remain in human bodies for a long time.
Most uses of PFOA and PFOS were voluntarily phased out by U.S. manufacturers in the mid-2000s, although there are a limited number of ongoing uses, and these chemicals remain in the environment due to their persistence and lack of degradation. In addition, some newer PFAS in use break down into PFOA and PFOS.
What is the City of Summerville doing about PFAS?
The City of Summerville has been actively working to reduce the levels of PFAS in the City’s drinking water since 2020, when EPD notified the City of elevated levels of PFOA and PFOS in Raccoon Creek. The City has implemented the use of Granular Activated Carbon (“GAC”) within existing filter beds which reduced the levels of PFOA and PFOS in the City’s drinking water to levels under the 2016 Health Advisory. The City has continued to perform ongoing testing of the drinking water and has reported test results to the Georgia EPD. The City has continued its efforts to develop a well to provide a supplemental supply of water. The City, going forward, will continue the use of GAC while a permanent treatment technique is investigated and developed. The City expects to begin pilot studies of various permanent PFAS treatment technologies in the coming months in order to ensure that the City will be compliant with any final EPA PFAS regulations.
Based on the current laboratory testing methods for PFAS, the new EPA health advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS are below the level of both detection (determining whether or not a substance is present) and quantitation (the ability to reliably determine how much of a substance is present). This means that it is possible for PFOA or PFOS to be present in drinking water at levels that exceed health advisories even if laboratory testing indicates no level of these chemicals.
We recognize that the levels of PFOA and PFOS in our water are above the new EPA health advisory levels, just announced last week on June 15, 2022. And while there is no such thing as “zero” in science, we agree that lower levels mean lower risks. So we are following GA EPD and EPA’s recommendations that we inform our customers, undertake sampling to assess the level, scope, and source of contamination, and examine steps to limit exposure. While water systems may not be able to eliminate all risks from PFOA and PFOS, they can successfully reduce those risks.
So to that end, the City of Summerville has:
- Performed PFAS monitoring of our water and report results to the GA EPD.
- Continued the use of the Granular Activated Carbon system mentioned above.
- Retained legal counsel to assist the City in recovering the past, present and future costs associated with PFAS removal and treatment from those responsible for the PFAS contamination of the water supply.
- Drilled multiple test wells to determine the feasibility of a supplemental source water supply
- Begun engineering/designing/permitting for a new production well to supplement the supply of water available for treatment in an effort to further reduce the amount of PFAS that is in the raw water supply.
- Constructed a 3 mile long pipeline to transport well water from the new well site back to the treatment plant
- Consulted with engineers to assist the City in developing a permanent solution to ensure that the City’s water supply will meet any and all final EPA regulations related to PFAS.
- Work to understand established and emerging treatment options and the costs associated with those options.
- Follow any and all directives and recommendations from the GA EPD and/or EPA concerning PFAS
As always, protection of public health and the environment and the quality of your drinking water are our top priorities.
If you have questions or concerns, please reach out. We are always available and proud to talk about how we produce and deliver your drinking water and the steps that our team takes to ensure its quality. You can also find additional information at epd.georgia.gov/pfoa-and-pfos-information and epa.gov/pfas
Download PDF of November 2020 Status Updates
Download PDF of Original Notice
Download PDF of Updated Notice 08/20/2020