Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) in Drinking Water
On February 13, 2007, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson released the results of a study that evaluated the occurrence of a widely used industrial chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking-water systems throughout the state.
"The study found very low levels in wells throughout New Jersey - consistent with levels found in other areas of the country," said Commissioner Jackson. "We are early in the process of assessing PFOA and what it means to human health. However, it is important to involve water companies now, rather than later."
The DEP tested 23 drinking-water systems and PFOA was detected at very low levels in 78 percent of those tested. The report (Pdf Format) also includes drinking-water system results submitted from outside sources including environmental groups and water companies.
DEP also has taken the first step toward developing a preliminary drinking-water guidance value (Pdf Format) for PFOA. Based on existing animal studies and estimates derived from a lifetime of exposure (70 years), DEP identified a guidance level of .04 parts per billion (ppb). Average blood levels in the United States are approximately 5 ppb.
The new guidance level is the first phase of an ongoing process to establish a drinking-water standard for this contaminant. As the science regarding PFOA is developing rapidly, DEP will continue to conduct sampling and evaluate data from all sources as it becomes available. DEP is not recommending a change in consumption patterns based on the new information.
PFOA is used to make fluropolymers-substances with special properties used in many industrial applications, including the manufacture of consumer products such as non-stick cookware and all-weather clothing.
Additional information on PFOA can be found at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/pfoa/index.htm.
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