Pennsylvania DEP Proposes Stricter Limits for PFAS in Drinking Water

Dec. 2, 2021

The state’s environmental rule-making board voted Nov. 15 to release draft rules on two types of the chemicals.

Pennsylvania regulators are moving to set enforceable limits on toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water.

The state’s environmental rule-making board voted Nov. 15 to release draft rules on two types of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS. The draft rule would set limits of 14 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 18 ppt for PFOS in drinking water in Pennsylvania, reported The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

This rule would apply to all community water treatment systems, other public water supplies, water bottlers and bulk sellers.

The estimated cost for treatment upgrades and monitoring at all of the state’s affected water supply systems will total $121.5 million per year plus $4.4 million per year for compliance monitoring for the first four years, reported The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported finding chemicals in the PFAS family at more than a quarter of 412 public water systems sampled. For the public water supplies studied, 7.4% would not meet the limits the state is proposing.

Monitoring and treatment is proposed to begin in 2024 for the largest half of the state’s water systems. For smaller systems, 2025 is the target, reported The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Funding for those upgrades are currently undetermined.

There is no current enforceable limit on the chemicals in Pennsylvania or federally for that matter. Pennsylvania state authorities first became aware of PFAS in 2013, reported the DEP. In May 2016, EPA reduced the combined lifetime drinking water health advisory limit for PFOA and PFOS to 70 ppt. 

Additionally, the U.S. EPA is asking the agency’s Science Advisory Board to review draft scientific documents regarding the health effects of some PFAS.

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Cristina Tuser