News Feature | December 12, 2016

PFC Contamination Stretches Deeper Into Philadelphia Suburbs

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

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Pennsylvania regulators revealed the results of an investigation into perfluorinated chemical (PFC) contamination that has dogged several water supplies in the Philadelphia suburbs.

“Three of about 280 private wells in Buckingham, Doylestown Township and Plumstead have PFOA and PFOS above the level deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency,” The Intelligencer reported, citing regulators and noting that the results conclude the first part of a three-part investigation.

Regulators said residents of homes where perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) exceeded U.S. EPA limits were provided with bottled water, according to the report.

The investigation began after a Doylestown Township Municipal Authority well was shut down in May because PFOA levels exceeded federal limits, according to a previous Intelligencer report. The well “contained PFOA at 210 parts per trillion, three times the EPA's 70-ppt recommended limit.”

State regulators said in a statement, per The Intelligencer:

A second sampling event has been scheduled for early December to include private wells in an expanded area of investigation. In accordance with guidance from EPA, a third sampling event will take place in the winter months to re-sample properties that have tested above 40 ppt.

The statement added that no responsible party has been identified as the source of the contamination at this time.

The affected well is not far from an ongoing PFC contamination scandal in Horsham and Warminster, where military bases appear to have leaked contaminants into the water supply.

“Data released Nov. 29 by base officials showed some wells at 21 on-base sites have levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) that far exceed the federal Environmental Protection Agency's health advisory levels of 70 parts per trillion,” the Bucks County Courier Times reported.

Residents of the Philadelphia suburbs are still grappling with how to respond to the contamination problem. Some are seeking legal action. One Horsham couple is “suing the Navy and seeking at least $1 million in damages, claiming PFC contamination has left their property valueless,” The Intelligencer reported.

The EPA issued a health advisory in May about PFC exposure as various cities wage high-profile battles against the compounds, including Hoosick Falls, NY, and factory towns across the country. PFCs are industrial chemicals, and research has tied them to cancer, the Associated Press reported.

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

Image credit: "water droplets," ethan sztuhar © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: