EPA Lowers PFOA Limit for Parkersburg Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a consent order to E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. that sets an action level for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or C-8 of 0.4 parts per billion in drinking water for communities surrounding the company’s Washington Works facility in Parkersburg, W. Va. This action level replaces the 0.5 ppb threshold established under a November 2006 EPA consent order with DuPont.

The order was prompted by a recent EPA Provisional Health Advisory for PFOA. The advisory used new and different information than was used to calculate the 2006 action level. The new action level should reduce levels of PFOA exposure for residents while EPA completes research required for the national PFOA risk assessment.

The agency said in a March 12 press release that this change is expected to impact a limited number of residents. Based on current data, approximately 14 private residences may need a treatment system or connection to a public water system.

Under the new order, DuPont will offer connection to a public water system, treatment, or temporary bottled water to people on public or private water systems if the level of PFOA detected in drinking water is equal to or greater than 0.40 parts per billion. Also, DuPont will take additional samples of private drinking water wells that were installed after 2006 and sample in some previously untested areas. Residents who have questions about this order can call EPA’s hotline at 866.575.8543.

PFOA, a synthetic chemical that has been used to make fluoropolymers, is not regulated under federal environmental laws. It is very persistent in the environment and is found at low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population. Studies indicate that PFOA can cause developmental and other adverse health effects in laboratory animals.

PFOA has been used since the 1950s at Washington Works. In recent years, EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection have taken actions to protect communities from PFOA contamination of drinking water. In 2001, West Virginia issued a consent order directing DuPont to monitor groundwater near the plant for discharges of PFOA and conduct a study of the public health impacts of PFOA releases.

Major companies using PFOA, including DuPont, have joined EPA’s PFOA Stewardship Program. Members of the program have committed to reduce PFOA from emissions and products content by 95 percent by 2010 and to work toward eliminating PFOA emissions and content by 2015.