Alex Beaty, regional public policy manager for NGWA, presented an update on the national status of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on September 18 to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments’ Groundwater Committee.
PFAS refers to man-made chemicals that are used in various products ranging from water and stain-resistant chemicals to firefighting foam. Millions of Americans are exposed to PFAS in drinking water and several types of PFAS chemicals have been linked to negative health effects, including liver damage, kidney damage, thyroid problems, and certain types of cancer.
In his presentation, Beaty outlined the status of PFAS-related regulations and NGWA’s progress in tracking PFAS sites and advocating for solutions to address the issue.
“As experts in PFAS research, NGWA feels it’s our duty to inform the public on the status of PFAS contamination,” Beaty said. “In the next couple of years, PFAS may become a household name and it’s important the public is able to separate fact from fiction and hyperbole.”
NGWA is the industry leader on PFAS research and was first to publish a guidance document on PFAS compounds, Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice. The document details how the potentially hazardous compounds interact in groundwater and soil.
Beaty outlined other efforts NGWA is doing, or has done, to address PFAS contamination:
- Supporting efforts to promote regulatory certainty through a maximum containment level (MCL)
- Working with Congress to develop and support legislation to provide resources to investigate and support communities affected by PFAS contamination
- Worked with Congress to help establish and grow the Congressional PFAS Task Force
- Volunteers collaborated in several efforts to submit comments to federal agencies addressing PFAS contamination, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s PFAS groundwater clean-up guidelines
- Created a PFAS resource center on its website that includes an FAQs piece, top 10 facts piece, and a PFAS checklist for homeowners, among other resources
- Publishing peer-reviewed scientific literature on the subject in Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation®
- Updating WellOwner.org, which offers resources for private homeowners to “Test, Treat, and Tend” to their water well system.
Forty-one states, including Ohio, have detected PFAS compounds in their drinking water and an estimated 15 million people live in regions that exceed the EPA’s health advisory level. It was reported in 2018 the city of Dayton had “alarming” levels of PFAS in its water system.
Due to its increased detection and effects, state and federal government agencies are focusing more on PFAS. 3M Co., Chemours Co., and DuPont de Nemours Inc. testified before the U.S. House Oversight Committee on the Environment on PFAS for the first time on September 10 regarding their knowledge of the potentially hazardous health impacts of PFAS.