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. Recent testing detected PFAS at very low levels – levels that are commonly found in municipal water systems given the common use of these substances in industrial and consumer products. PFAS has not been detected in our drinking water, only raw water samples.
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 Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, and WPAFB for over a year to monitor possible PFAS ground water contamination on and near WPAFB. It was only during the most recent testing that we detected PFAS at very low levels in the raw water samples. While these are very low levels, the City is demanding that the Air Force act now before the problem gets worse.
Is Dayton going to be another Flint, Michigan?
Absolutely not. The scenario here is exactly the opposite of what happened in Flint, Michigan. Right after the early warning system detected the new PFAS contaminant, we took action, including shutting down wells closest to WPAFB. We have advised the Air Force that WPAFB is the source of PFAS-tainted ground water migrating towards a large metropolitan water supply, and it needs to act immediately to protect the water supply from contamination in the future.
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 with WPAFB officials and the Ohio EPA officials. 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 the Huffman Dam wells, and other clean production wells are being used to provide water to our residents and 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. Simply, the Air Force needs to take immediate steps to control the release of these contaminants from Wright Patterson Air Force Base. This can be accomplished by installing gradient control wells near the Base boundary to draw any contaminated water back toward the Base. However, the Air Force has not acted.
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 for the Air Force 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?
Because the contamination is due to the activities occurring on Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the City has informed the Air Force that it intends to seek compensation for the contamination it caused, and reimbursement for the costs that the City has incurred, and will continue to incur, because of its contamination of the water.
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.