City of Manassas Provides Update on EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisories for PFAS
What are PFAS and how can they impact health?
PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been produced and used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. They have unique non-stick and stain-resistant properties.
These substances are troubling because the chemical structure that gives them remarkable non-stick properties also prevents them from breaking down quickly. As a result, they can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time.
Current studies show that exposure to PFAS may impact birth weight, affect physical development in children, increase the risk of some cancers, suppress the immune system, interfere with hormones, and increase cholesterol levels. More information is available from the EPA at epa.gov/pfas/our-current-understanding-human-health-and-environmental-risks-pfas.
Where do they come from?
PFAS typically enter water sources from industrial manufacturing or firefighting foam runoff. In addition to drinking water, people can be exposed to PFAS through food, packaging, cosmetics, dust, and many other sources.
Has PFAS been detected in our drinking water?
The City has been monitoring PFAS in the environment and tap water since the EPA asked utilities to begin collecting data on the chemicals’ prevalence in 2013. Most recently, the City contributed to the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) 2021 “PFAS in Drinking Water Sample Study,” which included PFAS sampling at the 17 largest waterworks in the state. Results from the study could not detect PFAS in drinking water produced by the Lake Manassas Water Treatment Plant.
What are the current PFAS regulations?
There are no enforceable federal or state regulations on PFAS in drinking water. However, the EPA is currently developing a proposed National Drinking Water Regulation for publication by the end of 2022 for two classes of PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS. The proposal will be finalized in 2023 and include a non-enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) and an enforceable drinking water standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).
While non-enforceable, the recently updated lifetime health advisories constitute a step in the process toward PFAS regulation. The advisories, in parts per trillion (ppt), are as follows:
- PFOA – 0.004 ppt (previously 70 ppt in combination with PFOS)
- PFOS – 0.02 ppt (previously 70 ppt in combination with PFOA)
- GenX – 10 ppt (no previous lifetime health advisory)
- PFBS – 2,000 ppt (no previous lifetime health advisory)
How is the City of Manassas responding to the updated lifetime health advisories?
The City of Manassas will continue to work with the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Drinking Water to monitor the tap water we produce for PFAS regularly. The VDH is currently examining how the health advisories impact its current and future PFAS monitoring efforts. The City will follow its recommended monitoring protocols as they are updated.
The VDH advises water utilities that detect PFAS in drinking water to take steps to inform customers about the contaminants, determine the extent of the contamination, and evaluate methods to reduce PFAS exposure. The City will continue to monitor PFAS and work with the state to determine if an action is required to protect public health.
More information from the VDH Office of Drinking Water can be found here.
Should drinking water customers switch to bottled water?
Because the Food and Drug Administration has not established contaminant standards for PFAS in bottled water, the U.S. EPA does not recommend switching to bottled water even if communities exceed PFAS health advisories. More information on the EPA’s recommendations can be found here.
Who can I contact if I’m concerned or need more information?
Please contact the Department of Utilities:
8500 Public Works Drive,
Manassas, VA 20110