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What are PFAS?

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. One common concern is that PFAS generally break down very slowly, meaning that concentrations can accumulate in people, animals, and the environment over time.

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group. PFOA and PFOS have been replaced in the United States with other PFAS in recent years. In chemical and product manufacturing, GenX chemicals are considered a replacement for PFOA, and perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) is considered a replacement for PFOS.

Does my water meet all state and federal standards for drinking water?

Yes, water supplied by East Lyme Water is currently in compliance with all state and federal drinking water standards. Per the Final PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation, Public water systems have five years (by 2029) to implement solutions that reduce these PFAS levels that exceed the MCLs. East Lyme Water is currently designing two PFAS treatment plants with the timeline of being completed by 2027, with the goal of substantial completion in 2026.

What are the current drinking water standards?

In this final rule, EPA is setting limits for five individual PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA (known as GenX Chemicals). And EPA is also setting a hazard index level for two or more of four PFAS as a mixture: PFNA, PFHxS, HFPO-DA, and PFBS:

For more information on the PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation , refer to: https://www.epa.gov/pfas

How can PFAS affect my health?

The main health concerns from ingestion of the PFAS compounds for which CT DPH has drinking water Action Levels come from studies in laboratory animals which consistently show effects on the liver and immune system, and on growth, reproduction, and fetal development. PFAS can also affect the endocrine (e.g., thyroid) and hormonal systems and can disturb blood lipids such as cholesterol in lab animals. Studies of human populations exposed to elevated levels of these PFAS generally support the effects seen in animals. Some studies of populations exposed to PFOA have also shown an increased risk for kidney cancer, and at very high exposure levels, for testicular cancer.

If your drinking water has PFAS at levels greater than the CT drinking water Action Levels and you have been drinking the water or using it for cooking for many years, you may have an increased chance of experiencing health problems like the ones mentioned above. However, it is important to understand that consuming water with PFAS levels greater than the Action Levels does not mean that health effects will occur. Action Levels are developed with many health protective safety factors. Also, your level of risk depends on a number of factors including the level of PFAS in the water, how long you have been drinking the water (i.e. exposure duration) and whether you are a member of a sensitive population group. Pregnant people, infants and children are at higher risk because of PFAS effects on pregnancy outcomes and fetal, infant and child growth and development. If you have specific health concerns, you may wish to consult with your health care practitioner.

It is important to note that the water that is currently being supplied by the East Lyme Water Department is in compliance with all State and Federal drinking water standards.

More information on PFAS from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the EPA are included below.

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