PFAS in US source and treated drinking waters

Boone JS, Vigo C, Boone T, Byrne C, Ferrario J, Benson R, Donohue J, Simmons JE, Kolpin DW, Furlong ET, Glassmeyer ST. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in source and treated drinking waters of the United States. The Science of the total environment. 2018 Oct 18;653:359-369. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.10.245.

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are of interest to regulators, water treatment utilities, the general public and scientists. This study measured 17 PFAS in source and treated water from 25 drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) as part of a broader study of CECs in drinking water across the United States. PFAS were quantitatively detected in all 50 samples, with summed concentrations of the 17 PFAS ranging from <1 ng/L to 1102 ng/L. The median total PFAS concentration was 21.4 ng/L in the source water and 19.5 ng/L in the treated drinking water. Comparing the total PFAS concentration in source and treated water at each location, only five locations demonstrated statistically significant differences (i.e. P < 0.05) between the source and treated water. When the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) concentrations in the treated drinking water are compared to the existing US Environmental Protection Agency’s PFOA and PFOS drinking water health advisory of 70 ng/L for each chemical or their sum one DWTP exceeded the threshold. Six of the 25 DWTPs were along two large rivers. The DWTPs within each of the river systems had specific PFAS profiles, with the three DWTPs from one river being dominated by PFOA, while three DWTPs on the second river were dominated by perfluorobutyric acid (PFBA).

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