Source: NC Newsline
Eleven public water systems in North Carolina have detected levels of the toxic compound PFAS above the EPA’s proposed maximum contaminant level of 4 parts per trillion (ppt). This information was revealed through the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR), which requires public water systems to sample for certain unregulated contaminants, including PFAS.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of over 12,000 man-made chemicals that are used in a wide range of products, including food packaging, nonstick cookware, and firefighting foam. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down easily in the environment or the human body.
Exposure to PFAS has been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, thyroid and liver disorders, and reproductive and developmental problems.
While the EPA has proposed a drinking water standard for PFAS, it has not yet been finalized. As a result, public water systems are not required to notify their customers if PFAS is detected in their drinking water.
This means that thousands of North Carolinians may be unaware that they are drinking water that contains PFAS.
For example, Jamestown, NC buys its water from High Point and Greensboro which have both detected elevated levels of PFAS in their water supply. However, Jamestown’s website does not mention PFAS.
Jamestown plans to update the public about PFAS via its Town Council meetings, but it would be difficult to sift through an entire meeting to find the portion where PFAS is discussed.
The EPA is currently working on developing final drinking water standards for PFAS. Once these standards are finalized, public water systems will be required to comply with them and notify their customers if PFAS is detected in their drinking water at levels above the standard.
In the meantime, it is important for North Carolinians to be aware of the potential for PFAS exposure. If you are concerned about PFAS in your drinking water, DEQ has a public water supply section, 919-707-9100. That section hosts Drinking Water Watch, where you can search for your utility and learn more about its violation history, its sources of water, contact information and more.