The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the St. Tammany Parish, La., government received a...
Action level now 0.40 parts per billion
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a consent order to E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. that sets a new action level for PFOA—also known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or C-8—in drinking water for communities surrounding the company’s Washington Works facility in Parkersburg, W. Va. The order was prompted by a recent EPA Provisional Health Advisory for PFOA.
EPA expects that this change will impact a limited number of residents. Based on current data, approximately 14 private residences may need a treatment system or connection to a public water system. Under the new order, DuPont will offer connection to a public water system, treatment or temporary bottled water to people on public or private water systems if the level of PFOA detected in drinking water is equal to or greater than 0.40 parts per billion (ppb). This action level replaces the 0.50 ppb threshold established under a November 2006 EPA consent order with DuPont. Also, DuPont will take additional samples of private drinking water wells that were installed after 2006 and sample in some previously untested areas. Residents who have questions about this order or PFOA can call EPA’s hotline at 866.575.8543.
EPA’s Provisional Health Advisory used new and different information than was used to calculate the 2006 action level. The new action level is intended to reduce levels of PFOA exposure for residents while EPA completes research required for the national PFOA risk assessment, which is currently underway. Based on the risk assessment, EPA will take action as necessary to further protect public health.
PFOA is a synthetic chemical that is not currently regulated under federal environmental laws. It is has been used to make fluoropolymers—substances with special properties used in many industrial applications, including the manufacture of consumer products such as non-stick cookware and all-weather clothing. It is very persistent in the environment and is found at low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population. Studies indicate that PFOA can cause developmental and other adverse health effects in laboratory animals.
PFOA has been used since the 1950s at DuPont’s Washington Works plant. In recent years, EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection have taken actions to protect communities from PFOA contamination of drinking water. In 2001, West Virginia issued a consent order directing DuPont to monitor ground water near the Washington Works plant for discharges of PFOA and conduct a study of the public health impacts of PFOA releases.
Major companies using PFOA, including DuPont, have joined EPA’s PFOA Stewardship Program. Members of the program have committed to reduce PFOA from emissions and products content by 95% by 2010 and to work toward eliminating PFOA emissions and content by 2015.
The text of the order and a fact sheet is available at: www.epa.gov/region5/ water/gwdw/dupont/index.htm.