July 23, 2020

No detection of PFAS contaminants in county water system

BATAVIA, OH – Recent sampling of Clermont County’s water system for chemicals called Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) found no detection of PFAS — the chemicals in the movie Dark Waters, about a town in West Virginia whose groundwater is contaminated by a neighboring chemical company. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) has been sampling water systems across the state.

“This is very good news,” said Lyle Bloom, Director of Clermont County Water Resources. “All three of Clermont County’s water treatment plants were sampled as part of Ohio’s Statewide PFAS Action Plan for Drinking Water and there was no detection of PFAS from the raw or finished water at any of our treatment facilities.”

The plan calls for Ohio EPA to gather data from public water systems statewide to determine if PFAS are present in drinking water. The water system was sampled for six individual PFAS contaminants: PFOA, PFOS, GenX, PFBS, PFHxS, and PFNA.

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals applied to many consumer goods to make them waterproof, stain resistant, or nonstick. PFAS are also used in products like cosmetics, fast food packaging, and a type of firefighting foam called aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) which are used mainly on large spills of flammable liquids, such as jet fuel.  PFAS is also called the “forever chemical” because they are not easily broken down by sunlight or other natural processes.  They may remain in the environment for many years.

PFAS can enter drinking water at sites where they are made, used, disposed of, or spilled. Some, but not all, studies in humans with PFAS exposure have shown that certain PFAS may: affect growth, learning and behavior of infants and children; lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant; interfere with the body’s natural hormones; increase cholesterol levels; affect the immune system; or increase the risk of certain cancers.  Scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposures to mixtures of PFAS.

In 2013, Clermont County performed sampling and analysis at all three of its water treatment plants.  At that time, there was also zero detection of PFAS.  There are currently no national drinking water standards (Maximum Contaminant Levels or MCLs) established for PFAS compounds; however, OEPA adopted Action Levels ranging from 21 to 140,000 ng/L for various PFAS chemicals.  Ohio EPA will be establishing response protocols for public water systems in Ohio when action levels are exceeded, including public notification and issuance of drinking water advisories.

Ohio EPA also has a website dedicated to PFAS with additional information: https://epa.ohio.gov/pfas

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