News Feature | November 8, 2017

New Jersey Sets Nation's Toughest PFC Limits

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

As communities across the country struggle with pollution from perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), New Jersey moved to set stricter rules for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).

E&E News reported that New Jersey’s standards for these chemicals will be "the strictest in the nation." A press release from the state department of environmental protection (DEP) said that the new standards will make New Jersey "the first state to set MCLs [maximum contaminant levels] requiring statewide testing of public drinking water systems for PFOA and perfluorononanoic acid PFNA."

“The state Department of Environmental Protection is accepting the standards proposed by a scientific water quality panel that had studied the issue and made the recommendation more than a year ago,” The Record reported.

The limit for PFOA will be 14 ppt. For PFNA, it will be 13 ppt, the report said. PFCs, the report noted, are linked to stain-resistant carpets, waterproof clothing, non-stick cooking pans, and other products.

“Bob Martin, commissioner of environmental protection, said Governor Christie’s administration agreed to adopt the institute’s recommendation of 14 parts per trillion for PFOA and 13 parts per trillion for PFNA. Previously, the state had no hard standard for PFOA and its guidance for drinking water was set at much higher levels. It had no guidance for acceptable levels of PFNA,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

A study by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found that PFCs contaminate the water supply for 15 million people across the U.S. The research project includes an interactive map highlighting where PFCs have been detected.

“New Jersey has the most known contamination sites with six, followed by Alabama and New Hampshire with five each and New York with four. At many of the sites, contamination levels are extremely high. The highest level recorded is at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, a combined Air Force, Army and Navy base near Trenton, N.J.,” the report said.

Even environmental groups praised New Jersey’s standards; however, the state received criticism for how long it took for these rules to pass.

“New Jersey is setting very strong standards for these chemicals, which is one of the best in the nation,” New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said, per the Inquirer. “The problem is, DEP should have moved more quickly to adopt it with emergency rule-making. New standards for PFNA were recommended by the Drinking Water Quality Institute in 2009.”

To read more about PFC issues visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.