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Lack Of State Toxicologist Delays Evaluation Of Petition To Set PFOA Drinking Water Standard

Lack Of State Toxicologist Delays Evaluation Of Petition To Set PFOA Drinking Water Standard

The departments of Environmental Protection and Health told members of the Environmental Quality Board Tuesday the lack of a state toxicologist has delayed the evaluation of a rulemaking petition asking the Board to set a maximum contaminant level for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water.

The agencies told the Board efforts have been made to hire a toxicologist to review the petition for a PFOA standard, but they had difficulties with people turning down the position for a variety of reasons, including salary levels.  Other candidates did not want to be the sole toxicologist working on this and other issues.

The Board accepted a petition to set an MCL for PFOA for review in August 2017 from the Delaware RiverKeeper.  DEP said it hoped to come back to the Board this June with a recommendation on whether or not to move forward to actually develop an MCL.

DEP has never set its own drinking water MCLs, but rather adopts those put in place by the federal Safe Drinking Water Program.  The reason is simple, the breadth and depth of the human health and environmental studies required to study a chemical and adopt an MCL cost millions of dollars and years to complete to be scientifically credible.

 Background

Water sampling done in Warminster, Warrington and Horsham townships in Montgomery County reported that the groundwater that feeds public and private wells for at least 70,000 people was found to be among the worst in the nation, most all in the vicinity of the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base at Willow Grove, the current Horsham Air Guard Station in Horsham and the site of the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster.

As a result of the use of firefighting foams at these military facilities in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, people have been exposed for many years to dangerous concentrations of PFOA in their drinking water.

The federal Department of Defense, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies have been involved in responding to these issues.

DEP is also responding directly to PFOA and related groundwater contamination at several locations, including recently in East and West Rockhill townships in Bucks County under the state Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.

For more information on PFOA and PFOS contamination and other sites under investigation, visit DEP’s PFOA and PFOS: What Are They webpage.

New Jersey/Federal Action

Since the rulemaking petition was accepted by the EQB in August of 2017, several actions have been taken on setting an MCL for PFOA and related contaminants by New Jersey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In November of 2017, New Jersey became the first state to set a formal MCL for PFOA and the related perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) in drinking water.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection set a 14 parts for trillion MCL for PFOA and a 13 parts per trillion standard for PFNA.

EPA is now evaluating the need for a nationwide MCL for PFOA and PFOS as a result of contamination in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

EPA held a public hearing July 25 in Horsham, Montgomery County as part of its evaluation to take public comment.

Click Here for the details on EPA MCL initiative.

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