EPA issues Provisional Advisories for PFOA, PFOS

In response to an urgent situation in Decatur, Ala., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in early January issued Provisional Health Advisories for the PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate).

The agency developed this health-based guidance using the most recent scientific studies. The values in the PHAs are essentially levels that, when exceeded, suggest the need for discontinuing use of a water source for drinking or cooking.

EPA's PHA value for PFOA is 0.4 ug/L (ppb); the value for PFOS is 0.2ug/L. These values, which are for short-term exposure, were developed to be protective of all populations and life stages. The values could be used elsewhere in cases that require responding to an urgent or rapidly developing situation.

PFOS and PFOA are of concern because they can cause systemic and developmental toxicity in laboratory animals. TheaAgency has not yet developed a level that is acceptable for lifetime exposures with no anticipated adverse health effects. The PHA values are guidance; they are not enforceable and may be revised as new scientific information becomes available.