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Emerging Contaminants - PFOS and PFOA

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has identified two chemicals, known as known as PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) as emerging contaminants. These chemicals are part of a class of chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which are currently unregulated by the federal government. PFCs have been used in a number of industrial and commercial products such firefighting foam, as well as coatings that repel water, oil, stains and grease. Thus, people may be exposed to PFOS and PFOA through air, water, or soil from industrial sources and from consumer products.

In 2013, major water supply companies began testing their wells for PFOS and PFOA. In May, 2016, the US EPA established a health advisory level for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water. Health advisories are non-enforceable, non-regulatory levels in drinking water that are developed by the US EPA to provide information on contaminants that may be found in drinking water. The health advisories are established after careful review of the research and science that is available on a specific contaminant. They provide information on potential health risks from exposure to a chemical. In addition, the health advisories provide information on appropriate actions that can be taken when chemicals are detected in drinking water.

The drinking water health advisory level for PFOS and PFOA is 0.07 parts per billion (ppb), which is the same as 70 parts per trillion (ppt). When both PFOA and PFOS are detected in a water supply, the combined concentration should be compared to the 0.07 ppb health advisory. This health advisory has been established to provide everyone, including the most sensitive populations (developing fetus and infants who may be breastfed or fed formula mixed with water), with a margin of protection from exposure to PFOS and PFOA in drinking water, even if that exposure were to occur throughout their life. Health-protective assumptions are incorporated in the determination of the health advisory to provide this margin of protection and account for uncertainty in the assessment.

In the absence of federal regulation, New York State took aggressive action ‎and in June, 2016 became the first state in the nation to regulate PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances, which enables the State to use the legal authority and financial resources of the State Superfund Program to clean up contaminated sites. For more information about the regulation of PFOA and PFOS in New York State, click here.

For more information about PFOA and PFOS, see the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) Frequently Asked Questions

Resources

USEPA: Information on PFOS and PFOA: www.epa.gov
assessing and
managing chemicals

Health advisory for PFOA and PFOS: www.epa.gov
ground water
and-drinking
water health
advisories

NYSDOH PFOA info: www.health.ny.gov
environmental
investigations

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) website on PFCs: www.atsdr.cdc.gov
pfc index

US Air Force Civil Engineer Center: www.afcec.af.mil
Perfluorinated
Compounds


Suffolk County Water Authority 2016 Drinking Water Quality Report:

For complete report: 2016_DWQR
FINAL_5-31-16.pdf

For PFOS/PFOA reporting: dwqr2016
10-11.pdf

Groundwater
Quality in the
Vicinity of the
Air National
Guard Base
in Westhampton

Groundwater
Quality in
the Vicinity
of the
Yaphank Avenue,
Yaphank, click here

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901