Is my water safe to drink?
YES! The water provided by NAWCO is safe to drink and is well below the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health advisory levels for PFOA/PFOS (70 parts per trillion). Both the EPA and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) consider this level protective of public health.
What are PFOA, PFOS and PFAS?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body - meaning they don't break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.
PFAS can be found in:
- Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
- Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
- Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
- Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
- Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.
Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase outs including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.
What is NAWCO doing to address the issue?
- NAWCO will continue monitoring on a quarterly basis at the supply entry points and at representative locations in water distribution system.
- NAWCO will continue to assess and publish the results on our website.
- Monitoring all regulatory meetings and discussions for updates on setting an MCL.
- Investigating future treatment options including Carbon Filtration and ION exchange in the event that this becomes needed.
- Keep our customers informed of all new information that becomes available.
Who is responsible for regulating PFAS in drinking water?
In Pennsylvania, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) set and assess compliance with water standards. In May of 2016, the EPA released lifetime health advisories of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS (individually or combined) for exposure from drinking water. These advisory levels are set at concentrations which EPA is certain are protective for the most sensitive individuals against reproductive and developmental impacts with a margin of safety.
PFCs are not regulated currently under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Since there is no maximum contaminant level (MCL) for either PFOA or PFOS, both EPA and PADEP assess water system PFC concerns based on the 70 ppt HAL. The HAL was set to be protective of all consumers, including sensitive subpopulations, with a margin of protection or safety factor.
Why are PFAS an issue in our area?
The contamination is suspected to have originated from firefighting foams used on a trio of former and current military bases in those communities. The bases include the former Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and the active Horsham Air Guard station.
What would happen if any of NAWCO's water sources tested higher than the EPA's health advisory level?
Newtown Artesian would promptly remove any source that exceeded any State or Federal regulatory limit including the health advisory level on PFCs.
How did the EPA set its Health Advisory Level for PFOS and PFOA?
Health Advisories were developed EPA's health advisories are based on the best available peer-reviewed studies of the effects of PFOA and PFOS on laboratory animals (rats and mice) and were also informed by epidemiological studies of human populations that have been exposed to PFASs. These studies indicate that exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations), cancer (e.g., testicular, kidney), liver effects (e.g., tissue damage), immune effects (e.g., antibody production and immunity), thyroid effects and other effects (e.g., cholesterol changes). EPA's health advisory levels were calculated to offer a margin of protection against adverse health effects to the most sensitive populations: fetuses during pregnancy and breastfed infants. The health advisory levels are calculated based on the drinking water intake of lactating women, who drink more water than other people and can pass these chemicals along to nursing infants through breastmilk.
Does NAWCO plan to test for PFAS going forward?
NAWCO will continue monitoring on a quarterly basis at the supply entry points and at representative locations in water distribution system.
NAWCO will continue to assess and publish the results on our website. Along with all new information that becomes available.