On June 15, 2022, EPA issued interim updated drinking water health advisories for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) that replace those EPA issued in 2016. PFOA and PFOS are members of a chemical group called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The updated advisory levels, which are based on new science and consider lifetime exposure, indicate that some negative health effects may occur with concentrations of PFOA or PFOS in water that are near zero. These interim health advisories will remain in place until EPA establishes a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation.

Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County does not regulate or test public water systems. The levels and testing announced by the Environmental Protection Agency were done under their jurisdiction. Each individual municipal water supplier is responsible for the maintenance of their systems and are regulated by the EPA.

Health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory but are meant to provide technical information that federal, state, and local officials can use to inform the development of monitoring plans, investments in treatment solutions, and future policies to protect the public from PFAS exposure.

At this time, EPA is not recommending bottled water for communities based solely on concentrations of these chemicals in drinking water that exceed the health advisory levels. If you are concerned about PFAS in your tap water, EPA recommends you contact your local water utility to see whether they can provide any specific recommendations for your community.

PFAS are a large group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s.

PFAS are emerging contaminants. Emerging contaminants are contaminants about which we have a new awareness or understanding about how they move in the environment or affect health. PFAS, like other emerging contaminants, are the focus of active research and study, which means that new information is released frequently. One common characteristic of concern of PFAS is that many break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time.

Current scientific research suggests that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health outcomes. However, research is still ongoing to determine how different levels of exposure to different PFAS can lead to a variety of health effects. Research is also underway to better understand the health effects associated with low levels of exposure to PFAS over long periods of time, especially in children. Numerous studies have shown that higher levels of exposure to PFAS are associated with a wide range of human health effects. These include higher cholesterol, changes to liver function, reduced immune response, thyroid disease, and, in the case of PFOA, kidney and testicular cancer. However, more work needs to be done to determine if PFAS, or other factors, caused the effects.

Public Health provides for permitting of home wells for their operation, but does not require testing for PFAS. If a private well operator is concerned about any contaminants in their water, we recommend they consult an expert for advice regarding mitigation measures they can take. They also may consider connecting to a public water source if that is an option. For more information visit https://www.epa.gov/privatewells

Support scientific, legislative and industry efforts to reduce sources of PFAS in the environment.

Activated carbon, anion exchange and high-pressure membranes have all been demonstrated to remove PFAS from drinking water systems. These treatment technologies can be installed at a water system’s treatment plant and are also available in-home filter options. Each of the four health advisory documents identifies the treatment technologies that have been demonstrated to remove the specific PFAS and the factors that impact performance of the technologies. Learn more about these treatment technologies.

Individuals who are concerned about PFAS in their wells or in their homes may consider in-home water treatment filters that are certified to lower the levels of PFAS in water. You can find more about these filters. If you are concerned about potential health effects from exposure to these PFAS above the health advisory level, contact your doctor or health care professional.

What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, 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. PFOA and PFOS 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 don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

PFAS can be found in:

  • Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
  • Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
  • Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
  • Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
  • Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.

Why are PFAS important?

PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants. Most people have been exposed to PFAS. Certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. The most-studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS. Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals. The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:

  • low infant birth weights,
  • effects on the immune system,
  • cancer (for PFOA), and
  • thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

How are people exposed to PFAS?

There are a variety of ways that people can be exposed to these chemicals and at different levels of exposure. For example, people can be exposed to low levels of PFAS through food, which can become contaminated through:

  • Contaminated soil and water used to grow the food,
  • Food packaging containing PFAS, and
  • Equipment that used PFAS during food processing. 

People can also be exposed to PFAS chemicals if they are released during normal use, biodegradation, or disposal of consumer products that contain PFAS.  People may be exposed to PFAS used in commercially-treated products to make them stain- and water-repellent or nonstick. These goods include carpets, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging materials, and non-stick cookware.

People who work at PFAS production facilities, or facilities that manufacture goods made with PFAS, may be exposed in certain occupational settings or through contaminated air.

Drinking water can be a source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility, for example,

  • an industrial facility where PFAS were produced or used to manufacture other products, or
  • an oil refinery, airfield or other location at which PFAS were used for firefighting. 

PFOA, PFOS, and GenX have been found in a number of drinking water systems due to localized contamination.  You can view more information about exposures to PFAS through drinking water on our Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS page.

Are there health effects from PFAS?

There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. If humans,  or animals, ingest PFAS (by eating or drinking food or water than contain PFAS), the PFAS are absorbed, and can accumulate in the body. PFAS stay in the human body for long periods of time. As a result, as people get exposed to PFAS from different sources over time, the level of PFAS in their bodies may increase to the point where they suffer from adverse health effects.

Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animal studies. The most consistent findings from human epidemiology studies are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:

  • infant birth weights,
  • effects on the immune system,
  • cancer (for PFOA), and
  • thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).
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