What are Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and where do they come from?
Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of over 3,000 chemicals that have been in use for more than 50 years. They can be found in industrial and home products and were designed to resist heat, grease, stains, and friction. A wide variety of products are made with PFAS, including non-stick cookware, food packaging, personal care products, and waterproof attire.
When it comes to PFAS, protecting drinking water sources is a priority. We continue to stress the importance of source water protection and its role in keeping drinking water supplies safe.
Has Loudoun Water tested its water for PFAS?
Yes. No perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were detected in Loudoun Water’s sampling conducted as part of the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3. All results were non-detect, meaning that all results were below the reporting level. The analysis was conducted using EPA Method 537.
We are not aware of any local agencies having testing results that were in exceedance of EPA’s health advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS.
Is there a regulation for PFAS?
There is currently no established federal water quality regulation for any type of PFAS. In May of 2016, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Both chemicals are types of PFAS. Internationally, the European Union (EU) issued a directive in late 2020 setting a limit value of 500 ppt for total PFAS concentration in drinking water.
The EPA’s health advisory states that if water sampling results confirm that drinking water contains PFOA and PFOS at an individual or combined concentrations greater than 70 parts per trillion (ppt), water systems should quickly undertake additional sampling to assess the level, scope, and localized source of contamination to inform next steps.
We are aware of VDH’s plans to conduct a study on PFAS levels in the state's drinking water, and we are awaiting further guidance from VDH on the matter.
We will take necessary actions to meet future state and federal regulations when they are established.
Can PFAS be removed from drinking water with current treatment processes?
There are no treatment processes available for drinking water utilities that would not significantly increase water rates for customers. Nor would such treatments produce a demonstrated health benefit.
What can I do?
- Support efforts to protect drinking water sources and keep PFAS out of water supplies.
- Cook with stainless steel, cast-iron, glass, or ceramics. Don’t use nonstick cookware.
- Read ingredient lists and choose products without PTFE or perfluoro- or polyfluor-.
- Look for coats, hats, and boots labeled water-resistant. They’re less likely to have PFAS than waterproof products.
- Make popcorn on the stove or in an air popper instead of microwave bags.
- Steer clear of ordering food in grease-resistant wrappers or containers.
- Avoid carpets and upholstery treated to be stain or water-resistant; decline stain treatment.
- Ask manufacturers if their products contain PFAS. These chemicals are often not listed.
Where can I learn more about PFAS?
- American Water Works Association (AWWA)
- Center For Disease Control (CDC)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)