PFAS - Per - and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
Where can I learn more about PFAS?
What is drinking water?
Drinking (or potable) water is water safe to drink or use for food preparation. Potable water is available either from a municipal utility company or as domestic self-supply from a private well on your property.
If you pay a bill for water, you are served by a public utility that must meet the testing schedule and requirements under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (https://www.epa.gov/sdwa). The water well that serves the utility that provides your potable water is often several miles away from your home.
General PFAS Facts
What are Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)?
PFAS are man-made chemicals that do not occur naturally in the environment. They may be used in
surface protection of non-stick cookware, stain resistant carpets and fabrics, waterproof mattress and
clothes, and to make some food packaging resistant to grease absorption (such as microwave popcorn
bags). PFAS are also used in some firefighting materials. Other industrial uses include photo imaging,
metal plating, printers and copy machines.
The term PFAS encompass a wide universe of substances with very different physical and chemical
What are the most common Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)?
The most common and well-studied PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane
PFAS Regulation and Advisories
What is the current Health Advisory Level (HAL) for PFAS in drinking water?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a lifetime drinking water HAL for PFOA+PFOS of 0.07 micrograms per liter (μg/L) [0.07 μg/L = 70ppt]. This is the equivalent of a shot glass (1.5 oz) in approximately 150 million gallons of water. Drinking water at or below this standard for a lifetime is not expected to cause any harm to your health.
Other Actions Relating to PFOA and PFOS
EPA has not established national primary drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS. EPA is evaluating PFOA and PFOS as drinking water contaminants in accordance with the process required by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). To regulate a contaminant under SDWA, EPA must find that it: (1) may have adverse health effects; (2) occurs frequently (or there is a substantial likelihood that it occurs frequently) at levels of public health concern; and (3) there is a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for people served by public water systems.
In 2013, Indian River County Utilities participated in the EPA's Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program to collect data for contaminants suspected to be present in drinking water, but that do not have regulatory standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The monitoring provides EPA and other interested parties with nationally representative data on the occurrence of contaminants in drinking water, the number of people potentially being exposed, and an estimate of the levels of that exposure.
These data can support future regulatory determinations and other actions to protect public health. PFAS analytes monitored in that study were not detected in the Indian River County samples.
Perspective - Parts per Trillion (ppt)
A lot of times the analogy used to describe parts per trillion is drops in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. A part per trillion is one droplet of water in that pool, so 140 parts per trillion would be about 140 droplets. To expand on that analogy, an Olympic pool holds about 660,000 gallons of water, which equates to 10.56 million 8-ounce glasses of water.
1 Part Per Trillion is equivalent to:
- 1 second in 317.1 centuries
- 1 penny of $10,000,000,000
- 1 inch of 657.6 trips around the equator
- 1 minute in 1,900 millenniums
- 1 ounce in 31,250,000 tons