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Update on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Sampling Project

Recently, there have been articles in the news concerning a recent testing directive by the Oregon Health Authority Drinking Water Services for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in drinking water.  The EPA recently became concerned over the prospect of PFAS contaminating public water systems in Oregon.  

Public water districts were notified that OHA-DWS will be conducting a PFAS Drinking Water Sampling project to make sure customers are not being exposed to potentially harmful levels of PFAS chemicals in their drinking water.  Sampling will occur at all public water systems in Oregon (this includes Rivergrove) whose sources have been identified as at risk to PFAS contamination due to their proximity to a known or suspected PFAS use or contamination site. 

This week, raw water samples were taken at each of our well sites. These samples will be tested and the results provided to OHA-DWS.  In turn, DWS will contact us with the interpretation and determine if further action is required.

Again…this testing is happening across the nation in many states and is in its preliminary stages.  There is absolutely no cause for alarm. We have included some introductory information below.  Please direct any questions to the office at 503-635-6041 or visit the OHA website at www.healthoregon.org/dws.

What are Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)?

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOX, 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. PFAS have been used for decades in products like food packaging, carpets, non-stick products, other household items, medical supplies, and firefighting foam due to their ability to resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. PFOS and PFOA 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 do not break down and they can accumulate over time. Research is ongoing on how this class of chemicals affects peoples’ health.

 

What are the health effects from exposure to PFAS?

There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, there is evidence from human and animal studies that suggest high levels of certain PFAS may lead to increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, small decreases in infant firth weights, decreased vaccine response in children, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer.

 

Are PFAS regulated in drinking water?

PFAS are currently not regulated in drinking water at the federal level, however the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun the process to regulated PFOS and PROA in drinking water and it is very likely that maximum containment levels (MCLs) will be established for a least these two PFAS contaminants in the future. In lieu of a federal drinking water regulation, several states have or are in the process of developing their own MLCs or health advisory levels.