News Feature | July 17, 2018

Vermont Bulks Up PFAS Water Advisory

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Vermont is bulking up its drinking water for PFAS by adding three substances to the warning.

“The Health Department set its first drinking water health advisory in 2016 after PFOA was discovered in Bennington and Pownal, and that advisory was expanded to also include PFOS, a chemical used in firefighting foam. [In July], the Health Department said it added the chemicals PFHxS, PFHpA and PFNA to the list,” VPR reported.

Under the advisory, the level of PFAS in drinking water, including when these chemicals are added together, may not exceed 20 parts per trillion (ppt). The advisory now includes the following chemicals:

  • PFOA - perfluorooctanoic acid
  • PFOS - perfluorooctane sulfonic acid
  • PFHxS - perfluorohexane sulfonic acid
  • PFHpA - perfluoroheptanoic acid
  • PFNA - perfluorononanoic acid

The department decided to expand its advisory in the aftermath of testing that revealed the presence of additional forms of PFAS.

“Until 2018, the PFAS predominantly found in drinking water in Vermont was PFOA. With the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) expanded testing of sites around the state, other PFAS – including PFHxS and PFHpA – have been found at levels that triggered the Health Department to expand its health advisory,” the advisory stated.

The department made note of how to treat the substances in its advisory.

“All five PFAS compounds now included in the health advisory can be effectively removed from drinking water with the use of carbon filtration point-of-entry treatment systems (POETS),” the advisory stated.

The threat of PFAS contamination has become a high-profile issue in the wake of revelations that military bases and factories have contaminated the water supply with these chemicals in various parts of the country, including the Philadelphia suburbs.

“PFAS were previously used to make Teflon and other nonstick products in addition to other commercial applications. Exposure at high levels is linked to liver damage, developmental problems and some forms of cancer, among other risks,” the Associated Press reported.