PFOA Drinking Water Standard Lowered

PFOA Drinking Water Standard Lowered

Postby pfpcnews » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:37 am

PFOA Drinking Water Standard Lowered

Chemical & Engineering News - November 26, 2006

EPA, DuPont agree to reduce PFOA exposure to residents near West Virginia plant

By Glenn Hess

An agreement between DuPont and the Environmental Protection Agency aims to reduce exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water for residents in communities surrounding the company's manufacturing site near Parkersburg, W.Va.

The consent order sets an interim screening level of 0.5 ppb for PFOA in any public or private drinking water system around the site. The new limit replaces the 150-ppb threshold established by EPA in 2002. It does not address PFOA levels in water near other DuPont plants.

Under the order, DuPont will offer alternative drinking water or treatment for public or private water users living near its Washington Works plant if the level of PFOA detected in drinking water is equal to or greater than the revised screening level.

EPA says the lowering of the so-called action level is based on new data from animal studies and higher than normal blood serum levels of PFOA detected in a recent study of 70,000 people living near the plant, which was conducted as part of a class-action settlement between DuPont and area residents.

DuPont agrees that exposure to PFOA should be reduced among residents in the local West Virginia and Ohio communities, says William H. Hopkins, manager of the Washington Works plant.

PFOA, which has been used since the 1950s at DuPont's Washington Works facility, is widely used to make fluoropolymers for many industrial applications, including the manufacture of consumer products such as Teflon nonstick cookware and all-weather clothing.

The persistent chemical is found at low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population. Studies indicate PFOA can cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals. An EPA advisory panel has recommended listing PFOA as a "probable" cancer-causing agent.

DuPont stresses that there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA, although studies of the chemical continue. The company has been monitoring groundwater near the Washington Works facility for discharges of PFOA since 2001.

EPA is conducting a risk assessment that will help estimate the amount of PFOA that people can be exposed to without experiencing adverse health effects. The 0.5-ppb action level is "a temporary measure to reduce levels of PFOA exposure for residents" while the agency completes its research, EPA notes.

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