The results will help communities better understand the extent of their environmental exposures to PFAS.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) announced on February 21 they have identified communities to be a part of assessments to examine human exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). All are near current or former military installations.
The assessments are expected to begin in 2019 and continue through 2020, and will lay the groundwork for CDC/ATSDR’s future multisite health study that will look at the relationship between PFAS exposure and health outcomes.
The CDC/ATSDR partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the New York State Department of Health through a grant program with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials to begin assessing exposure in the communities of Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania, and Westhampton, New York.
The CDC/ATSDR will build upon that work to complete exposure assessments in eight additional locations:
- Berkeley County (West Virginia) near Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base
- El Paso County (Colorado) near Peterson Air Force Base
- Fairbanks North Star Borough (Alaska) near Eielson Air Force Base
- Hampden County (Massachusetts) near Barnes Air National Guard Base
- Lubbock County (Texas) near Reese Technology Center
- Orange County (New York) near Stewart Air National Guard Base
- New Castle County (Delaware) near New Castle Air National Guard Base
- Spokane County (Washington) near Fairchild Air Force Base.
The primary goal of the exposure assessments is to provide information to communities about levels of PFAS in their bodies. The results of these assessments will help communities better understand the extent of their environmental exposures to PFAS.
People in each of these communities will be selected randomly to participate in the exposure assessments. Participants will have their PFAS levels checked via blood and urine samples. Like the two pilot sites in Pennsylvania and New York, the exposure assessments will use statistically based sampling. The sampling results from participants can give scientists information about community-level exposure.
“The assessments will generate information about exposure to PFAS in affected communities and will extend beyond the communities identified as the lessons learned can also be applied to communities facing similar PFAS drinking water exposures,” said Patrick Breysse, Ph.D., CIH, director, CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health/ATSDR. “This will serve as a foundation for future studies evaluating the impact of PFAS exposure on human health.”
PFAS has been on NGWA’s radar for several years and will remain a priority issue for the foreseeable future. The Association has created a Groundwater and PFAS resource center for NGWA members. The center includes PFAS FAQs, top 10 facts about PFAS, and a homeowner checklist, among other items. NGWA is also the publisher of the guidance document, Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice.
As in 2018, NGWA is hosting educational events on PFAS this year as well:
A roundtable Q&A with industry experts on PFAS will be published in NGWA’s Water Well Journal® April issue, which focuses on water quality and water treatment. A video interview with Avram Frankel, PE, one of the experts interviewed in the Q&A, will be featured on the magazine’s website in April as well.