Little or no PFAS found in most small drinking water utilities in first round of state testing
So far, the state has detected little or no toxic PFAS chemicals in Indiana’s smaller drinking water utilities. This is according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management preliminary test data 24 small water services.
PFAS is a man-made chemical found in everything from carpets and fast food packaging to fire-fighting foams on military bases – like the Grissom Air Reserve Base near Kokomo. Exposure to them has been linked to cancer, immune system problems, and developmental issues in children.
Of the drinking water utilities tested by the state, only two had detectable levels of PFAS in their treated water – Morgan County Rural Water Corporation and the city of Charlestown, served by Indiana American Water – and those levels were low.
Hartford City and Aurora had PFAS chemicals in their raw water, but no detectable levels in the water delivered to residents – suggesting the treatment might work.
All of the state’s results were below health advisory levels suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency. At present, the EPA does not regulate PFAS, although the agency announced plans to regulate two types of PFAS in drinking water in October.
Jackie MacDonald Gibson chairs the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Indiana University and conducts research on PFAS in rural water.
” That’s very good news. Yes, very good news. The levels are very low. In fact, I was surprised that I didn’t see more legacy PFASs, âshe said.
MacDonald Gibson said, keep in mind that many of these water utilities are in the country and may be further away from industrial sources of PFAS.
“But it’s heartwarming to know anyway, in these small utilities – which are less equipped to handle PFAS issues than the large utilities – that these levels are low,” she said.
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In an emailed statement, IDEM said utilities that have detectable PFASs should monitor their treated water results to ensure they stay below EPA health advisory levels. .
IDEM plans to test drinking water in more utilities across the state until May 2023.
Indiana in American Water’s own test results in 2020, PFAS was detected in: the greater Gary area, Terre Haute, Johnson County, Charlestown, Farmersburg, Georgetown, Jeffersonville, Mooresville and Newburgh. All IAW results were also below EPA health advisory levels for the two PFAS sampled – PFOS and PFOA.
MacDonald Gibson said the four utilities where IDEM detected PFAS have levels low enough that she personally feels safe with drinking water. But affected residents can filter many PFASs using a granular activated carbon filter for their refrigerator or under their sink. There are also several water filters on the market that use granular activated carbon.
American Water has installed granular activated carbon systems to remove PFAS at five of its sites across the country and is researching new ways to remove chemicals.
Indiana Environmental Reports are supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project that develops Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to environmental change issues. .