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PFAS Resources


PER- AND POLYFLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES (PFAS)

The Water Replenishment District (WRD) is committed to managing and protecting local groundwater resources for over four million residents living in the 43 cities of Southern Los Angeles County. WRD has been actively working with our pumping community to address Perflourooctanic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) in groundwater and to ensure that all potable water meets state and federal drinking water standards and is safe to drink. Additionally, WRD has been monitoring groundwater quality for the past couple decades using a groundwater monitoring network of 335 monitoring wells, which monitor over 120 contaminants throughout the basin, including PFOA and PFOS.

PFOA and PFOS are man-made compounds that have been used for several decades all over the world in industrial manufacturing, firefighting foams (aqueous film forming foam [AFFF]), and several consumer products including fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, non-stick cookware (Teflon™), clothing (Gore-Tex ®), fabric protectant (Scotchgard™), and stain resistant carpets. However, PFOA and PFOS have been phased out of products made in the United States since the 2000’s.

WRD and others are currently gathering data in response to the phased sampling program initiated by the State Water Resource Control Board's Division of Drinking Water (DDW). The first phase of sampling began in the Central Basin, generally in and around the Montebello Forebay. Additional sampling is anticipated for other areas of the basin including the West Coast Basin. PFAS constituents have been detected in a few active production wells; however, the concentrations are below the safe drinking water standards established for PFOA / PFOS. In addition, WRD has proactively implemented two rounds of groundwater sampling from our regional groundwater monitoring well network and will continue to monitor the basins for these and other contaminants.

WRD is actively working with the pumping community to address PFOA and PFOS within the basin by forming a working group which convenes stakeholders to discuss treatment options and current research. We are also working with our State and Federal partners to secure funding to provide treatment programs through our Safe Drinking Water Program when necessary. If you have concerns about your water quality you may contact your water provider for more information.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are PFAS?

Per- and polytluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals including the most commonly discussed ones Pertlourooctanic Acid (PFOA) and Pertluorooctanesuifonate (PFOS). PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 194o's. PFOA and PFOS are two of the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals and due to their chemical structure, are very persistent in the environment and in the human body- meaning they take a long time to break down and can accumulate over time. There is evidence that excessive exposure to PFAS can lead to human health effects.

 

PFAS can be found in:

►           Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.

►           Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).

►           Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS can build up and persist over time.

Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase outs including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.

(Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency)

How are people exposed to PFAS?

There are a variety of ways that people can be exposed to these chemicals and at different levels of exposure. For example, people can be exposed to low levels of PFAS through food, which can become contaminated through: Contaminated soil and water used to grow the food, food packaging containing PFAS, and equipment that used PFAS during food processing.

People can also be exposed to PFAS chemicals if they are released during normal use, biodegradation, or disposal of consumer products that contain PFAS.

Drinking water can be a source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility, for example, an industrial facility where PFAS were produced or used to manufacture other products, or an oil refinery, airfield or other location at which PFAS were used for firefighting (Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency).

 

Does recycled water contain these chemicals?

There are no state or federal regulatory levels for wastewater or recycled water with respect to PFAS. In some wastewater treatment plants, the levels detected are slightly above existing Notification Levels, but well below the current Response Level set by State Water Resource Control Board's Division of Drinking Water (DDW) (70 parts per trillion). Concentrations appear to be dropping due to phasing out of PFOA and PFOS.

How is WRD addressing PFAS?

WRD has been monitoring groundwater quality for more than 50 years using a network of 335 wells which monitor for over 120 contaminants throughout the basin. Additionally, WRD is actively working with the pumping community to address PFOA and PFOS within the basin by forming a working group which convenes stakeholders to discuss treatment options and current research. We are also working with our State and Federal partners to secure funding to provide treatment programs when necessary.

What happens if these chemicals are found in my water supply?

Water purveyors are currently serving water that meets all regulations mandated by the Division of Drinking Water and is safe to drink. If your water supply contains these chemicals and the concentrations get much higher than the Notification Level, the State recommends the water be removed from service as a precaution. In these cases, the water can be treated or blended to reduce or eliminate concentrations. 

The current Response Level for PFOA plus PFOS is 70 parts per trillion, which is an extremely small amount. For example, 70 parts per trillion is equivalent to 70 drops in a large lake full of water. 

Can you treat PFAS?

PFAS can be treated by various methods with the most common ones being reverse osmosis (RO), ion exchange (IX), and granular activated carbon (GAC). These technologies have been fully studied and are considered "best available technologies" (or BATs) approved by the State Water Resource Control Board's Division of Drinking Water (DDW). WRD and others are currently treating recycled water using fully advanced treatment technologies (including RO) at the three seawater injection barriers along the coast and inland areas located in the Montebello Forebay, including at the Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental Learning. Water treated using these technologies will be non-detect for PFOA/PFOS. WRD can also provide wellhead treatment through our existing Safe Drinking Water Program. The wellhead treatment will most likely include the use of IX or GAC.

Is groundwater impacted by PFAS?

WRD and others are currently gathering data in response to the phased sampling program initiated by the DDW. The first phase of sampling began in the Central Basin, generally in and around the Montebello Forebay. Additional sampling is anticipated for other areas of the basin including the West Coast Basin. PFAS constituents have been detected in a few active production wells; however, the concentrations are below the safe drinking water standards established for PFOA / PFOS. In addition, WRD has proactively implemented two rounds of groundwater sampling from our regional groundwater monitoring well network and will continue to monitor the basins for these and other contaminants.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are PFAS?

Per- and polytluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals including the most commonly discussed ones Pertlourooctanic Acid (PFOA) and Pertluorooctanesuifonate (PFOS). PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 194o's. PFOA and PFOS are two of the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals and due to their chemical structure, are very persistent in the environment and in the human body- meaning they take a long time to break down and can accumulate over time. There is evidence that excessive exposure to PFAS can lead to human health effects.

 

PFAS can be found in:

►           Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.

►           Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).

►           Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS can build up and persist over time.

Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase outs including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.

(Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency)

How are people exposed to PFAS?

There are a variety of ways that people can be exposed to these chemicals and at different levels of exposure. For example, people can be exposed to low levels of PFAS through food, which can become contaminated through: Contaminated soil and water used to grow the food, food packaging containing PFAS, and equipment that used PFAS during food processing.

People can also be exposed to PFAS chemicals if they are released during normal use, biodegradation, or disposal of consumer products that contain PFAS.

Drinking water can be a source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility, for example, an industrial facility where PFAS were produced or used to manufacture other products, or an oil refinery, airfield or other location at which PFAS were used for firefighting (Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency).

 

Does recycled water contain these chemicals?

There are no state or federal regulatory levels for wastewater or recycled water with respect to PFAS. In some wastewater treatment plants, the levels detected are slightly above existing Notification Levels, but well below the current Response Level set by State Water Resource Control Board's Division of Drinking Water (DDW) (70 parts per trillion). Concentrations appear to be dropping due to phasing out of PFOA and PFOS.

How is WRD addressing PFAS?

WRD has been monitoring groundwater quality for more than 50 years using a network of 335 wells which monitor for over 120 contaminants throughout the basin. Additionally, WRD is actively working with the pumping community to address PFOA and PFOS within the basin by forming a working group which convenes stakeholders to discuss treatment options and current research. We are also working with our State and Federal partners to secure funding to provide treatment programs when necessary.

What happens if these chemicals are found in my water supply?

Water purveyors are currently serving water that meets all regulations mandated by the Division of Drinking Water and is safe to drink. If your water supply contains these chemicals and the concentrations get much higher than the Notification Level, the State recommends the water be removed from service as a precaution. In these cases, the water can be treated or blended to reduce or eliminate concentrations. 

The current Response Level for PFOA plus PFOS is 70 parts per trillion, which is an extremely small amount. For example, 70 parts per trillion is equivalent to 70 drops in a large lake full of water. 

Can you treat PFAS?

PFAS can be treated by various methods with the most common ones being reverse osmosis (RO), ion exchange (IX), and granular activated carbon (GAC). These technologies have been fully studied and are considered "best available technologies" (or BATs) approved by the State Water Resource Control Board's Division of Drinking Water (DDW). WRD and others are currently treating recycled water using fully advanced treatment technologies (including RO) at the three seawater injection barriers along the coast and inland areas located in the Montebello Forebay, including at the Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental Learning. Water treated using these technologies will be non-detect for PFOA/PFOS. WRD can also provide wellhead treatment through our existing Safe Drinking Water Program. The wellhead treatment will most likely include the use of IX or GAC.

Is groundwater impacted by PFAS?

WRD and others are currently gathering data in response to the phased sampling program initiated by the DDW. The first phase of sampling began in the Central Basin, generally in and around the Montebello Forebay. Additional sampling is anticipated for other areas of the basin including the West Coast Basin. PFAS constituents have been detected in a few active production wells; however, the concentrations are below the safe drinking water standards established for PFOA / PFOS. In addition, WRD has proactively implemented two rounds of groundwater sampling from our regional groundwater monitoring well network and will continue to monitor the basins for these and other contaminants.