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York Water closely monitors scientific developments, the water and wastewater industry, and regulatory activity with respect to emerging contaminants. As concern over PFAS/PFOA has grown based upon developing science and toxicologic analysis, York Water maintains a sampling protocol to ensure that our water supply sources are not presenting PFAS/PFOA to our customers and the environment. If we detect these contaminants, we will pursue the source(s) and will ensure that water delivered to our customers is sufficiently treated and meets the most stringent applicable regulatory standards. At this time, York Water has not detected PFAS or PFOA in its source water.
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, are manufactured chemicals introduced in the late 1940s, before production took off in the 1950s. Their unique properties help products repel water, grease, and stains, resist heat, and reduce friction, and are used in a wide range of items, such as non-stick cookware, stain repellants, waterproofing compounds, fire-fighting foams (primarily AFFF), and food packaging coatings.
The characteristics of PFAS that made them so popular is largely what makes them so difficult to treat: their ability to resist chemical reactions and their thermal stability restrict the options available.
While the two PFAS compounds that are most commonly known (PFOS and PFOA) are no longer manufactured in the United States, there are no regulations or restrictions regarding the importation of PFAS. Research on PFAS are ongoing, including the compounds that are replacing them called “GenX Chemicals”.
As these chemicals were manufactured and used, they’ve been sprayed on the ground (AFFF, for example) or dumped by manufacturers, and have leached into some watersheds and groundwater wells, polluting water sources.
Lately, discussions about regulating PFAS have seemed to center around their contamination of drinking water and the subsequent treatment, rather than the source of contamination. So, what are we doing about it?
Drinking water only represents about 20% of Americans’ exposure to PFAS, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 80% of PFAS exposure is due to environmental factors. The York Water Company first tested for six different PFAS in 2013 as part of the US EPA’s voluntary Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule #3 (UCMR 3). The results reported by the lab were all “Non-Detect,” meaning there were no detectable amounts of PFAS in our water. We are currently slated to participate in UCMR 5, which expands on the number of PFAS chemicals being tested. Despite our historical records showing no PFAS contamination, we are expanding on our voluntary PFAS monitoring of all of our water systems.
How Americans are exposed to PFAS (CDC PFAS Factsheet)
Latest Regulatory Information: