Tag Archives: perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA)

Status of PFOA and PFOS regulation in drinking water

In February 2020, EPA announced that it is proposing to regulate both PFOA and PFOS under the SDWA—a critical step as the agency continues its efforts to protect drinking water and public health nationwide. This preliminary determination is a step toward providing state and local communities with key information about PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. In the proposal, EPA is also asking for information and data on other PFAS substances, as well as seeking comment on potential monitoring requirements and regulatory approaches EPA is considering for PFAS chemicals. If the positive regulatory determination is finalized, the agency would begin the process to establish a national primary drinking water regulation for PFOA and PFOS.” click here

PFOA/PFOS emerges as an election issue

In an election year political statements raising ‘hot button’ environmental issues like PFOA and PFOS are to be expected (e.g. click here). Ms. Dingell’s characterization of PFOA and PFOS are not based on science or even a proper understanding of environmental law.

The article below presents the only publicly available, independent peer-reviewed published paper examining the full implications of regulating of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.

F.W. Pontius. Regulation of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and
Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) in Drinking
Water: A Comprehensive Review. Water 2019, 11, 2003; doi:10.3390/w11102003

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) are receiving global attention due to their persistence in the environment through wastewater effluent discharges and past improper industrial waste disposal. They are resistant to biological degradation and if present in wastewater are discharged into the environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued drinking water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS at 70 ng/L each and for the sum of the two. The need for an enforceable primary drinking water regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is currently being assessed. The USEPA faces stringent legal constraints and technical barriers to develop a primary drinking water regulation for PFOA and PFOS. This review synthesizes current knowledge providing a publicly available, comprehensive point of reference for researchers, water utilities, industry, and regulatory agencies to better understand and address cross-cutting issues associated with regulation of PFOA and PFOS  contamination of drinking water.

Development of Drinking Water Guidelines for Perfluoroalkly acids

Post GB, Gleason JA, Cooper KR. Key scientific issues in developing drinking water guidelines for perfluoroalkyl acids: Contaminants of emerging concern. PLoS Biol. 2017 Dec 20;15(12):e2002855. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2002855.

Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), a group of synthetic organic chemicals with industrial and commercial uses, are of current concern because of increasing awareness of their presence in drinking water and their potential to cause adverse health effects. PFAAs are distinctive among persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) contaminants because they are water soluble and do not break down in the environment. This commentary discusses scientific and risk assessment issues that impact the development of drinking water guidelines for PFAAs, including choice of toxicological endpoints, uncertainty factors, and exposure assumptions used as their basis. In experimental animals, PFAAs cause toxicity to the liver, the immune, endocrine, and male reproductive systems, and the developing fetus and neonate. Low-dose effects include persistent delays in mammary gland development (perfluorooctanoic acid; PFOA) and suppression of immune response (perfluorooctane sulfonate; PFOS). In humans, even general population level exposures to some PFAAs are associated with health effects such as increased serum lipids and liver enzymes, decreased vaccine response, and decreased birth weight. Ongoing exposures to even relatively low drinking water concentrations of long-chain PFAAs substantially increase human body burdens, which remain elevated for many years after exposure ends. Notably, infants are a sensitive subpopulation for PFAA’s developmental effects and receive higher exposures than adults from the same drinking water source. This information, as well as emerging data from future studies, should be considered in the development of health-protective and scientifically sound guidelines for PFAAs in drinking water.

Environmental Standards for PFOA

Valsecchi S, Conti D, Crebelli R, Polesello S, Rusconi M, Mazzoni M, Preziosi E, Carere M, Lucentini L, Ferretti E, Balzamo S, Simeone MG, Aste F. Deriving environmental quality standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and related short chain perfluorinated alkyl acids. Journal of hazardous materials.2016 Apr 22. pii: S0304-3894(16)30396-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2016.04.055.

The evidence that in Northern Italy significant sources of perfluoroalkylacids (PFAA) are present induced the Italian government to establish a Working Group on Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) for PFAA in order to include some of them in the list of national specific pollutants for surface water monitoring according to the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). The list of substances included perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and related short chain PFAA such as perfluorobutanoate (PFBA), perfluoropentanoate (PFPeA), perfluorohexanoate (PFHxA) and perfluorobutanesulfonate (PFBS), which is a substitute of perfluorooctanesulfonate. For each of them a dossier collects available data on regulation, physico-chemical properties, emission and sources, occurrence, acute and chronic toxicity on aquatic species and mammals, including humans. Quality standards (QS) were derived for the different protection objectives (pelagic and benthic communities, predators by secondary poisoning, human health via consumption of fishery products and water) according to the European guideline. The lowest QS is finally chosen as the relevant EQS. For PFOA a QS for biota was derived for protection from secondary poisoning and the corresponding QS for water was back-calculated, obtaining a freshwater EQS of 0.1μgL-1. For PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA and PFBS threshold limits proposed for drinking waters were adopted as EQS.

PFAS Exposure via Water, Inhalation, Diet, and House Dust, Korea

Tian Z, Kim SK, Shoeib M, Oh JE, Park JE. Human exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) via house dust in Korea: Implication to exposure pathway. The Science of the total environment. 2016 Feb 27;553:266-275. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.087.

A wide range of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanols (FOSEs), perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs), and perfluoroalkane sulfonic acids (PFSAs), were measured in fifteen house dust and two nonresidential indoor dust of Korea. Total concentrations of PFASs in house dust ranged from 29.9 to 97.6ngg-1, with a dominance of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), followed by 8:2 FTOH, N-Ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanol (EtFOSE), perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA). In a typical exposure scenario, the estimated daily intakes (EDIs) of total PFASs via house dust ingestion were 2.83ngd-1 for toddlers and 1.13ngd-1 for adults, which were within the range of the mean EDIs reported from several countries. For PFOA and PFOS exposure via house dust ingestion, indirect exposure (via precursors) was a minor contributor, accounting for 5% and 12%, respectively. An aggregated exposure (hereafter, overall-EDIs) of PFOA and PFOS occurring via all pathways, estimated using data compiled from the literature, were 53.6 and 14.8ngd-1 for toddlers, and 20.5 and 40.6ngd-1 for adults, respectively, in a typical scenario. These overall-EDIs corresponded to 82% (PFOA) and 92% (PFOS) of a pharmacokinetic model-based EDIs estimated from adults’ serum data. Direct dietary exposure was a major contributor (>89% of overall-EDI) to PFOS in both toddlers and adults, and PFOA in toddlers. As for PFOA exposure of adults, however direct exposure via tap water drinking (37%) and indirect exposure via inhalation (22%) were as important as direct dietary exposure (41%). House dust-ingested exposure (direct+indirect) was responsible for 5% (PFOS in toddlers) and <1% (PFOS in adults, and PFOA in both toddlers and adults) of the overall-EDIs. In conclusion, house-dust ingestion was a minor contributor in this study, but should not be ignored for toddlers’ PFOS exposure due to its significance in the worst-case scenario.

PFAA Contamination of Drinking Water, Sweden

Gyllenhammar I, Berger U, Sundström M, McCleaf P, Eurén K, Eriksson S, Ahlgren S, Lignell S, Aune M, Kotova N, Glynn A. Influence of contaminated drinking water on perfluoroalkyl acid levels in human serum – A case study from Uppsala, Sweden. Environmental Research. 2015 Jun 12;140:673-683. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.05.019.

In 2012 a contamination of drinking water with perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) was uncovered in the City of Uppsala, Sweden. The aim of the present study was to determine how these substances have been distributed from the contamination source through the groundwater to the drinking water and how the drinking water exposure has influenced the levels of PFAAs in humans over time. The results show that PFAA levels in groundwater measured 2012-2014 decreased downstream from the point source, although high ΣPFAA levels (>100ng/L) were still found several kilometers from the point source in the Uppsala aquifer. The usage of aqueous film forming fire-fighting foams (AFFF) at a military airport in the north of the city is probably an important contamination source. Computer simulation of the distribution of PFAA-contaminated drinking water throughout the City using a hydraulic model of the pipeline network suggested that consumers in the western and southern parts of Uppsala have received most of the contaminated drinking water. PFAA levels in blood serum from 297 young women from Uppsala County, Sweden, sampled during 1996-1999 and 2008-2011 were analyzed. Significantly higher concentrations of perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) were found among women who lived in districts modeled to have received contaminated drinking water compared to unaffected districts both in 1996-1999 and 2008-2011, indicating that the contamination was already present in the late 1990s. Isomer-specific analysis of PFHxS in serum showed that women in districts with contaminated drinking water also had an increased percentage of branched isomers. Our results further indicate that exposure via contaminated drinking water was the driving factor behind the earlier reported increasing temporal trends of PFBS and PFHxS in blood serum from young women in Uppsala.

PFOS and PFOA in Spanish surface waters

Flores C, Ventura F, Martin-Alonso J, Caixach J. Occurrence of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in N.E. Spanish surface waters and their removal in a drinking water treatment plant that combines conventional and advanced treatments in parallel lines. Science of The Total Environment. Volumes 461–462, 1 September 2013, Pages 618–626. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.05.026.

Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) are two emerging contaminants that have been detected in all environmental compartments. However, while most of the studies in the literature deal with their presence or removal in wastewater treatment, few of them are devoted to their detection in treated drinking water and fate during drinking water treatment. In this study, analyses of PFOS and PFOA have been carried out in river water samples and in the different stages of a drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) which has recently improved its conventional treatment process by adding ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis in a parallel treatment line. Conventional and advanced treatments have been studied in several pilot plants and in the DWTP, which offers the opportunity to compare both treatments operating simultaneously. From the results obtained, neither preoxidation, sand filtration, nor ozonation, removed both perfluorinated compounds. As advanced treatments, reverse osmosis has proved more effective than reverse electrodialysis to remove PFOA and PFOS in the different configurations of pilot plants assayed. Granular activated carbon with an average elimination efficiency of 64±11% and 45±19% for PFOS and PFOA, respectively and especially reverse osmosis, which was able to remove ≥99% of both compounds, were the sole effective treatment steps. Trace levels of PFOS (3.0-21ng/L) and PFOA (<4.2-5.5ng/L) detected in treated drinking water were significantly lowered in comparison to those measured in precedent years. These concentrations represent overall removal efficiencies of 89±22% for PFOA and 86±7% for PFOS.

Click here for full paper (fee).