PFAS

PFAS 

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PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are persistent synthetic compounds used in a variety of industrial and consumer product applications including non-stick cookware and firefighting foams. 

The presence of PFAS compounds in source water and drinking water is of increasing public concern due to their widespread use and environmental persistence. 


April 10, 2024

U.S. EPA sets drinking water standard for PFAS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set its final rule setting drinking water standards for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Much of the final rule remains unchanged from the proposed rule. The rule finalizes the proposed maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) and maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for both perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

The final rule also includes the hazard index approach for perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA) as proposed; however, the MCL is set at 1 (as opposed to 1.0). Additionally, the final rule sets individual MCLGs and MCLs of 10 ppt for PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO-DA. An overview of the MCLs and MCLGs is shown in the table below.

Read the full AWWA advisory.

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Correcting PFAS Myths: Misperceptions Risk Higher Clean-up Costs for Water Ratepayers

In a nationwide press conference led by the Water Coalition Against PFAS, public water sector utilities united to address prevalent misconceptions concerning the cleanup of persistent PFAS compounds, and release a comprehensive report that refutes these myths. The report, titled "Correcting PFAS Myths: Misperceptions Risk Higher Clean-up Costs for Water Ratepayers" incorporates evidence from coalition members, definitively revealing that the yearly expenses for PFAS remediation will surpass Congress and EPA's expectations. The study highlights that the projected annual costs for PFAS cleanup could potentially be significantly greater than the current EPA estimates that are guiding regulatory actions.

Read the full report here

PFAS Technical Reports are Available!

Purchase as individual reports or as a bundle, these reports are FREE for AWWA members! Learn More

PFAS Reports

AWWA Water Science Topical Collection on PFAS Analytics and Treatment

In 2022, AWWA Water Science published a topical collection of research articles focused on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). 

Some main findings:

  • Select PFAS have health consequences at very low concentrations.
  • Several PFAS have been found in the environment at concentrations that raise concern.
  • Treatment options for these select PFAS are few, expensive, and have limitations.
  • Nontargeted analytical approaches continue to identify PFAS in drinking water sources, for which health, fate and transport, and treatment data are lacking.


Technical Resources

PFAS Cycle Infographic- This infographic provides a visual representation of how PFAS cycle through the environment.
PFAS Treatment- Learn about treatment technologies recognized for providing demonstrated PFAS removal and the requirements for selecting among these technologies. 
PFAS Overview and Prevalence- A summary of PFAS history, use, health concerns, and presence in drinking water supplies. 
PFAS Monitoring, Sampling, Analysis- A summary of PFAS sampling protocols, EPA methods for PFAS analysis, and other analytical methods for PFAS monitoring. 
Overview of EPA Methods for PFAS in Water - A comparison of EPA methods for measuring PFAS in drinking water. 
AWWA Briefing on PFAS  - provides information and guidance for water professionals challenged to address this emerging contaminant.
 

JournalAWWA Articles

To read the full text, click on the article links below, then login using the link in the upper right part of the page and following the “Login with AWWA” button. You must be a current member to read the full text.
 
 

 

You may also search additional articles on this or other topics published in the Journal AWWA, Opflow and AWWA Water Science

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March 14, 2023 - U.S. EPA proposes first national primary drinking water standard for six PFAS

The EPA proposal establishes maximum contaminant levels goals (MCLGs) and maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for six PFAS. Individual MCLGs and MCLs are proposed for both PFOA and PFOS on the EPA’s determination that these compounds are carcinogenic. An additional MCLG and MCL has been proposed for PFHxS, PFNA, PFBS, and HFPO-DA using a hazard index of 1.0. A hazard index is a tool used to evaluate combined risk from exposure to a mixture of contaminants. It is determined by calculating the ratio of the contaminant level in the water to the health-based water concentration (HBWC) and summing this ratio for all four PFAS. The HBWCs are 9.0 ppt for PFHxS, 10.0 ppt for GenX and PFNA each, and 2,000.0 ppt for PFBS.

The proposal also includes the following requirements for water systems: 

  • Initial Monitoring: Large groundwater systems serving greater than 10,000 people and surface water systems will need to complete quarterly monitoring over a 12-month period using either EPA Method 533 or 537.1. Small groundwater systems serving less than 10,000 people will need to complete monitoring twice over a 12-month period. Initial monitoring will need to be complete within 3 years of the final rule. Previous monitoring results from state or national monitoring programs may be used.
  • Compliance Monitoring: Water systems will be required to monitor quarterly initially but will be eligible for reduced monitoring if PFAS levels are less than one-third of the MCLs. Compliance will be determined based on a running annual average.  
  • Public Notification: Water systems will be required to notify the public within 30 days of any PFAS MCL violations. Systems must also report compliance monitoring results as part of their Consumer Confidence Reports.

Small System Compliance Technologies: In addition to the use of GAC, IX, NF, and RO as BATs for water systems, EPA provides for smaller systems serving less than 3,300 people to use point-of-use (POU) RO and NF filters to comply with the rule. It is important to note that POU filters are currently not certified by NSF/ANSI for removal of PFAS to levels below the proposed standards.

AWWA Comments on EPA's Proposed Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule-Learn about AWWA's recommendations to EPA regarding the requirements for water systems to monitor for 29 PFAS in drinking water.
AWWA Comments on Regulatory Determinations for PFAS- Learn about AWWA's recommendations to EPA regarding their proposed determination to regulate PFOA and PFOS and to consider other PFAS. 
Letter to the Congressional Budget Office Regarding S1507- A preliminary analysis of how a new drinking water standard for PFAS will affect water systems. 
US Senate Targets PFAS- Learn about AWWA's joint recommendations with other water agencies to Congress regarding PFAS provisions in NDAA 2020. 
AWWA 2019 Testimony before Congress- Learn about AWWA's key messages to Congress during hearings on PFAS. 
2019 Hearing on PFAS by Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works- Learn more about the hearing on PFAS hosted by the Senate including testimony by AWWA and other experts.
AWWA's Testimony to Senate Hearing on PFAS- AWWA's full testimony to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works during the hearing on PFAS.
AWWA's Public Communications Toolkit- This kit contains all of AWWA's information on public communication, from talking points to Journal AWWA articles and presentations. 
DrinkTap.org's Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances webpage
 

Technical Committee Engagement

AWWA members are recognized globally for their industry expertise and their generosity in sharing that expertise for a better world through better water. AWWA members participate in committee activities, developing conference programs, writing technical manuals, developing standards, creating educational content and contributing to AWWA publications. Committee members primarily interact through conference calls, emails, and face to face meetings at conferences and events. Access more information on volunteering for an AWWA committee.

The following committees are active in addressing PFAS issues:

  • Emerging Water Quality Issues
  • Organic Contaminants Control 
  • Organic Contaminants Research
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