Info About PFAS and Drinking Water

FACT: In 2016, the U.S. EPA established the Health Advisory Level (HAL) for PFAS of 70 parts per trillion.

What is PFAS?

PFAS – or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – are man-made chemicals found in a wide range of products used by consumers and industry, and most people have been exposed to it at very low levels. For Example, PFAS have been used in coatings for textiles, paper products, and cookware and to formulate some firefighting foams, and have a range of applications in the aerospace, and aviation industries, such as at military installations across the nation. For detailed information about PFAS, go to the U.S. EPA's website on PFAS, https://www.epa.gov/pfas, and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html.

Is my water safe?

Yes! As a preventative measure and to ensure the quality of its water, the City maintains an early warning monitor system designed to alert its team of highly qualified scientists and water professionals of potential risks. This sophisticated, state-of-the-art network is designed to give Dayton an opportunity to respond to a risk before its drinking water is impacted.  The City routinely tests our drinking water and the latest tests show readings well below the U.S. EPA’s health advisory limit, the City will continue to use the latest available technology to proactively monitor and safeguard our drinking water in coordination with the Ohio EPA.  The results of the latest test show PFAS present in drinking water at levels of 7-13 parts per trillion, which is lower than the U.S. EPA’s health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion.

What does PFAS do to you? Can I get cancer?

While the health effects of PFAS are still in the early stages of study, the substance has been used in many common products for years, and most people have probably already been exposed to it at very low levels. For detailed health information about PFAS, go to the U.S. EPA's website on PFAS, https://www.epa.gov/pfas, and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html.

Why are we just hearing about this now?

The City has been working with partners such as Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, WPAFB, and others for over a year to monitor possible PFAS ground water contamination.  In March 2018, the City began using new testing guidelines mandated by U.S. EPA to test the drinking water.  The new testing method enabled the City to detect PFAS at lower levels in finished water.

Is Dayton going to be another Flint, Michigan?

Absolutely not. The scenario here is exactly the opposite of what happened in Flint, Michigan.  The City of Dayton operates a robust early warning monitoring system. Right after the system detected the new PFAS contaminant, we took action, including shutting down wells closest to possible PFAS sources. The City continues to expand our nationally recognized source water protection program.

Why didn’t the City do anything before now?

The City has been taking action for years, routinely sampling early warning monitoring wells. Last year, the Ohio EPA asked the City to share and review results quarterly.  The City has voluntarily and continually worked with the Ohio EPA to address the migration of PFAS-tainted ground water toward wells.  And, in an abundance of caution and for the protection of its more than 1 million water customers and the approximately 3 million people who rely upon the aquifer, Dayton has shut down production wells in proximity to potential PFAS sources.  Further, the City uses strategies to optimize pumping in well fields to ensure the highest quality water is delivered to customers.

Is there a way to fix this? What are next steps?

Yes, the migration of the PFAS-tainted groundwater can be reduced, and even stopped.  This can be accomplished by installing gradient control wells near potential sources to draw any contaminated water back toward the source.

Because of this, the City also is investigating ways it can treat its water supply for these contaminants prior to being distributed to customers using other technology. However, the best way to solve this problem is to prevent the migration of the contaminants towards our water supply in the first place.

Who will pay to fix this problem since the water system is funded by ratepayers?

The City has engaged an environmental consultant to complete a Feasibility Study to determine the best method to address the PFAS issue.  Until the study is completed, it is not possible to accurately determine the cost to address the contamination.  However, the City will look for reimbursement for the cost of addressing the PFAS contamination from other responsible parties.

What can I do if I have questions about this? Who can I call if I think the water is making me or a family member sick?

If you have questions about PFAS and its potential health impacts, we encourage you to go to the U.S. EPA’s website on PFAS, https://www.epa.gov/pfas, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry webpage on PFAS, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html.

You can also contact Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County at http://www.phdmc.org/ (937) 225-5700 or Green County Public Health at http://www.gcph.info/ (937) 374-5600.