Calhoun County, AL – On June 15 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new lifetime health advisories for PFSA compounds. Limited testing in the city of Weaver and Jacksonville trace level above the standard numbers. In both cities the water samples had trace levels of PFAS compounds that individually range from below detection limits to 27 to 28 parts per trillion. Click here to see the full report and learn more. For perspective, one part per trillion is equal to one drop in 500,000 barrels of water. Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) as recommended the following information be provided to our consumers regarding PFAS. Based on this recommendation Weaver sent out the recommended letter provided. PFAS chemicals are so concerning because of their strength and failure to degrade in the environment. Millions across the country may be exposed to harmful levels. The EPA recently announced new health advisories which put the safe levels much lower. The Calhoun Journal spoke to Mayor Willis of Weaver who stressed that no action was required at this time by the City of Weaver; however he and the council wanted to release the information as soon as possible in an effort for transparency. ADEM and the EPA are still testing. For Weaver no mandatory action is expected until Spring. This is subject to change, but there is current testing being done this week and once a finalized testing system is developed there may be required action. Until testing is finalized with the EPA no action can be taken. The current numbers are two years old so current numbers may have changed.
Public Information Officer for Jacksonville, Ben Nunnally, explained that Jacksonville has not sent out the recommended letter yet only because there is nothing definitive known yet and they wanted to avoid a panic. “We want to make sure that people are aware that nothing has changed about the water. Nothing new has been added or is coming out of your tap. What has happened is the state environmental group has made an adjustment on how they measure. The standard might be changing. If it does the we will have to change and investigate the necessary steps to reach the standards. It may be be handled upstream or something done locally. This isn’t even a bad thing. What is standard for “healthy” changes and that is good for the community. We can make our water better and that is good, We will put out information as we find out what is definitively going to happen. Everything is the same and all that is changed is how they are measured.”
Over decades changes are made to determine what is ok and what is not. What is better and how to implant needed changes. This is the role of environmental agencies. At this time the only thing that is know is that testing from two years ago may show preliminary traces of PFSA’s that are now above standard. The test to determine these has not ben finalized or fully developed. This may change or may stay. This is about being cautions and being aware that changes could be required as testing is developed and refined. This is all preliminarily and is an evolving processes.
A statement from ADEM Director Lance LeFleur, as first reported by ABC 33/40:
“This is a national issue. There rightly is concern about any harms these chemicals can have on human health and the environment. ADEM has been addressing PFAS issues for a number of years, including requiring testing for PFAS at drinking water systems with wells/treatment plants even though there is not a federal requirement to do so. We are pleased to see EPA now take steps that will lead to the regulation of these emerging contaminates.
Based on these advisories, affected water systems will take action to reduce the level of PFAS in the drinking water and provide information to their users, especially for those who may have conditions that make them more sensitive to PFAS exposure. ADEM, along with the Alabama Department of Public Health, has been coordinating with water systems in Alabama that had measurable levels of PFAS to provide any assistance they may need. While the advisories are for a lifetime of exposure, ADEM is working with the drinking water systems to resolve the PFAS issues in the near term future.”
What are PFAS
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since 1940s PFAS are (or have been) found in a wide variety of consumer products as an ingredient in firefighting foam, PFASs manufacturing and processing facilities, airports and military installations are some of the contributors of PFAS releases into the air, soil, and water water. They are also found in some grease-resistant paper, fast food containers/wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, candy wrappers, stain resistant coatings used on carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics, water resistant clothing, cleaning products, personal care products (shampoo, dental floss) and cosmetics (nail polish, eye makeup), paints, varnishes, and sealants. Because of their widespread use. Most people have been exposed to PFAS.
What is being done?
The city of Weaver and Jacksonville will be implementing routine monitoring for these compounds and sharing these results with you as soon as they become available. They will also keep the examining available options to address PFAS and the drinking water supply and we’ll keep you informed.
What should I do?
- Review the EPA’s “Meaningful and achievable steps you can take to reduce your risk” at https://www.epa.gov/pfas/meaningful-and-achievable-steps-you-can-take-reduce-your-risk.
- Consider actions that may reduce your exposure, including installing at home or point of use filter, if possible, while steps are being taken to further understand levels of concern and potentially regulate PFA s at the national level.
- No boiling, freezing or letting water stand does NOT reduce PFAS levels.
You can access additional information about PFAS, including possible health outcomes, at the following websites.
- For the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, visit www.adem.alabama.gov.
- For basic information, EPA actions to address PFAS and links to information resources, visit www.epa.gov/PFAS
- For additional resources for PFAS and drinking water visit www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-PFOA-and-PFOS