WHAT ARE PER- AND POLYFLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES AND WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of thousands of man-made chemicals. PFAS have been used in a variety of industrial and consumer products around the globe, including in the U.S., for decades. Due to their widespread use and environmental persistence, most people in the United States have been exposed to certain PFAS. PFAS have been used to make coatings and products that are used as oil and water repellents for carpets, clothing, paper packaging for food, and cookware. They are also contained in some foams (aqueous film- forming foam or AFFF) used for fighting petroleum fires.
IS THERE A FEDERAL REGULATION FOR PFAS IN DRINKING WATER?
There is currently no federal drinking water standard for any PFAS compounds. In May 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a lifetime drinking water health advisory (HA) level at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for individual or combined concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Both chemicals are types of PFAS.
The Department of Defense (DoD) issued a policy in 2023 to monitor drinking water for PFAS at all DoD owned and operated water systems at a minimum of every two years. The DoD policy states that if water sampling results confirm that drinking water contains PFOA and PFOS at individual or combined concentrations greater than the 2016 EPA HA level of 70 ppt, water systems would 1) take immediate action to reduce exposure to PFOS or PFOA by providing alternative drinking water; and 2) evaluate and implement corrective actions to reduce levels below 70 ppt, or determine if the system should be permanently removed from use.
WHAT ABOUT THE EPA’S 2022 INTERIM HEALTH ADVISORIES OR PROPOSED REGULATIONS?
EPA issued interim Health Advisories for PFOS and PFOA in 2022. However, these newer levels are below quantifiable limits (i.e., below detection levels). In March 2023, EPA announced a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six PFAS including PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, HFPO-DA (GenX Chemicals), PFHxS, and PFBS. The EPA anticipates finalizing the regulation after the public comment period in 2023 and water systems will have three years to comply with the new regulation.
In anticipation of this EPA drinking water regulation and to account for emerging science that shows potential health effects of PFOS and PFOA at levels lower than 70 ppt, DoD continues to evaluate its efforts to address PFAS in drinking water, and what actions we can take to be prepared to incorporate this standard, such as reviewing our current data and collecting additional samples where necessary. DoD remains committed to communicating and engaging with our communities throughout this process.
HAVE Region Installations TESTED WATER FOR PFAS?
Yes. We are pleased to report that drinking water testing results were below the Minimum Reporting Level (MRL) for all 29 PFAS compounds covered by the sampling method, including PFOA and PFOS. This means that PFAS were not detected in all Region water systems. In accordance with DoD policy, the water system will be resampled every two years for your continued protection.
CNIC Updated Policy (2023)