Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) -Information for Public Water Systems
Beginning in 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (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.
During 2018 in collaboration with the CT DPH, PWSs conducted risk assessments to determine potential areas where PFAS contamination could be present. Improving technologies and laboratory techniques allow for the detection of PFAS at lower concentrations, therefore the CT DPH requested follow-up sampling by PWSs to determine if PFAS are present in the water systems near those areas.
On July 8, 2019, Governor Ned Lamont asked the Commissioners of the Department of Public Health and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to lead an Interagency Task Force that included representatives from a broad variety of state agencies to address PFAS in Connecticut. The Task Force developed a PFAS Action Plan and delivered this plan to Governor Lamont on November 1, 2019. This Action Plan contains 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.
The DPH is currently working with our Agency partners to implement the recommendations in the PFAS Action Plan.
Since the PFAS Task Force delivered the PFAS Action Plan, the DPH has been evaluating the most recent toxicological studies and has modified the Action Level for PFAS to the following:
CT Drinking Water Action Level
(parts per trillion, ppt)
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)
Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
Perflurohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS)
These Action Levels are based on the most sensitive, human-relevant effects seen in laboratory animals exposed to PFOS (immune effects); PFNA, PFOA (developmental effects); or PFHxS (thyroid effects). This new chemical-specific approach reflects the evolving scientific evidence on the toxicity of PFAS and is more protective of public health than the previous Action Level (sum of five PFAS = 70 ppt). Also, the resulting individual Action Levels are within the range of drinking water guidance and standards more recently derived by another federal agency (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR, 2018, 2020) and by other states, including most of our neighboring states. Please refer to the DPH’s new Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances Webpage for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.
Through Circular Letters 2022-27 and 2022-30, the DPH is renewing the recommendation to all PWS to test the water delivered to their customers for PFAS.
Recommended Actions for Public Water Systems that have tested for PFAS
Steps to Assess Contamination
If water sampling results confirm that drinking water contains PFAS concentrations greater than the Action Levels, water systems should quickly undertake additional sampling to assess the level, scope, and localized source of contamination to inform next steps. Public Water systems should also contact the CT DPH Emerging Contaminants Unit at (860) 509-7356 or email to DPH.EmergingContaminants@ct.gov .
Steps to Inform
Drinking water systems should promptly provide consumers with information about the levels of PFAS in their drinking water. This notice should include specific information on the risks to fetuses during pregnancy and to infants (breastfed and formula-fed) from exposure to drinking water with a PFAS concentration above Action Levels. In addition, the notification should include actions the public water system is taking and identify options that consumers may consider reducing risk such as seeking an alternative drinking water source, or in the case of parents of formula-fed infants, using formula that does not require adding water.
Steps to Limit Exposure
A number of options are available to drinking water systems to lower concentrations of PFAS in their drinking water supply. In some cases, drinking water systems can reduce concentrations of PFAS by closing contaminated wells.
Alternatively, public water systems can treat source water with activated carbon, ion exchange systems or high-pressure membrane systems (e.g., reverse osmosis) to remove certain PFAS from drinking water. These treatment systems are currently used by some public water systems to mitigate other contaminants but should be carefully designed and maintained to ensure that they are effective for treating the target PFAS. In some communities, entities have provided bottled water to consumers while steps to reduce or remove PFAS from drinking water or to establish a new water supply are being completed.
We can be exposed to PFAS not only through drinking PFAS contaminated water, but also through pathways such as: eating foods packaged in PFAS containing materials; using consumer products such as non-stick cookware, stain resistant carpeting, and water repellant clothing; and eating fish contaminated with PFAS. For more information on the health effects of PFAS and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the DPH’s PFAS webpage.
- 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
- Circular Letter 2022-27 Environmental Health and Drinking Water Branch Update for Public Water Systems regarding Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
- Circular Letter 2021-87 Bottled Water Sources to Sample for Unregulated Contaminants
- 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
- Interstate Technology Regulatory Council PFAS Treatment Technologies
- EPA Office of Research and Development - Drinking Water Treatability Database for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection - List of approved technologies for use in Massachusetts --310 CMR 22.04(8)
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