Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of manufactured chemicals that are collectively referred to as PFAS. PFAS are used in a variety of products and applications including non-stick cookware, upholstered furniture, clothing, food packaging, and firefighting foam used to extinguish petroleum fires. These substances are not found naturally in the environment. They do not break down easily and are extremely persistent in both the environment, especially in water, and the human body. It is estimated that there are approximately 3,000 PFAS in production. The terminology for this family of substances has been evolving. The current accepted acronym for this family of chemicals is PFAS, but references to “perfluorinated compounds,” or PFC’s remain in older literature and fact sheets.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a life time health advisory (HA) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water for two PFAS: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or the sum of PFOA+PFOS for public drinking water. The CT DPH Environmental and Occupational Health Assessment Program has found the U.S. EPA Health Advisory of 70 ppt to be protective of human health. Further, it has developed a CT DPH Drinking Water Action Level for drinking water in Connecticut in which the sum of five PFAS chemicals should not exceed the limit of 70 ppt. These five chemicals are PFOA and PFOS, plus perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), and perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA).
Beginning in 2013, the EPA required that all public water systems (PWSs) serving more than 10,000 individuals test for six PFAS compounds. Connecticut’s large PWSs conducted multiple rounds of testing from 2013 to 2015 and did not detect PFAS in the water from their sources of supply. These sources of supply provide drinking water for over 2.4 million daily customers in CT.
The Commissioners of the Department of Public Health and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have been asked by Governor Ned Lamont to lead an Interagency Task Force (www.ct.gov/ctpfastaskforce) that he has established to address PFAS in Connecticut. The Task Force will deliver a PFAS Action Plan to Governor Lamont by October 1, 2019. This Action Plan will contain a comprehensive strategy to:
1. Minimize human health risk for Connecticut residents,
2. Minimize future releases of PFAS to the environment, and
3. Identify, assess, and clean up historic releases of PFAS to the environment.
Three Committees have been formed to address these focus areas. The Human Health Committee is being Co-Chaired by Lori Mathieu, Public Health Section Chief of the Drinking Water Section and Brian Toal, Interim Public Health Section Chief of the Environmental Health Section. A list service has been established to keep interested parties informed on the activities of the PFAS Task Force, please email CTPFAS@ct.gov to participate.
For more information and fact sheets, the following links are provided:
- EPA PFAS Action Plan
- DPH DWS PFAS Strategy Summary
- EPA information and fact sheets
- CT Department of Public Health Drinking Water Action Level
- Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website on emerging contaminants, including PFAS
- Laboratories approved by EPA to conduct EPA Method 537 for PFAS for samples collected in Connecticut
- Interstate Technology Regulatory Council Fact Sheets for PFAS
- Association of State Drinking Water Administrators PFAS webpage
- Connecticut DPH fact sheet
- EPA Fact Sheet PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories
- EPA Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS
- State of New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Fact Sheet: How to Reduce Your Exposure to Perfluorochemicals, June 24, 2015
- Centers for Disease Control National Center for Environmental Health Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - An Overview of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Interim Guidance for Clinicians Responding to Patient Exposure Concerns
- Circular Letter 2016-16 - EPA Drinking Water Health Advisory for Two Perfluorinated Compounds
- Circular Letter 2018-19 - Update for Public Water Systems regarding Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
- Circular Letter 2018-20 - Requirement to Update an Evaluation of Source Water
- Circular Letter 2018-28 - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Toxicity Assessments for GenX Compounds and Perflurobutane Sulfonic Acid (PFBS)
- Circular Letter 2019-03 - Reminder to Complete Land Use Inventory Table Source Water PFAS Vulnerability Assessment (Standardized Spreadsheet Source Water PFAS Vulnerability Assessment Form)
- Greenwich Public Informational Presentation
- CT DPH presentation at the EPA's New England PFAS Community Engagement, Exeter, NH
- Presentation Given at the CT Department of Public Health Commissioner's Semi-Annual Meeting 9-13-18
- CT DPH presentation to the Yale School of Architecture
- CT DPH PFAS presentation to the Connecticut Water Works Association
- Presentation given at the CT Section American Water Works Water Quality and Technology Symposium on November 29, 2018
- CT DPH presentation to Eastern Connecticut State University Environmental and Earth Science Program
PFAS 101, Recording of the August 7, 2019 webinar presented by the Department of Public Health and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Treatment Options Available
- EPA Fact Sheet PFOA & PFOS DWHA (page 2) Recommended Actions for Drinking Water Systems
- New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute Recommendation on Perfluorinated compound treatment options for drinking water
- EPA Office of Research and Development - Drinking Water Treatability Database for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
For further inquiries:
Questions about drinking water from Public Supplies and treatment options: DPH Drinking Water Section: 860-509-7333
Questions on drinking water from Private Wells and treatment options:
DPH Private Well Program, 860-509-8401.
Questions about PFAS Health Effects:
DPH Environmental & Occupational Health Assessment Program, (860) 509-7740
Questions on PFAS Sources:
DEEP Remediation Division, 860-424-3705