PFAS Frequently Asked Questions
What is PFAS?
Per and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a class of thousands of different man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of commercial products since the 1940s. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, these chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they do not break down and they can accumulate over time.
What types of products have PFAS?
PFAS has been used in the production of carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, cosmetics, paper packaging for food, and other materials (e.g., cookware) that are resistant to water, grease, or stains. They are also used in aqueous firefighting foam and in several other industrial processes. Because these chemicals have been used in such a wide array of consumer products, most people have been exposed to them.
PFAS in Drinking Water
The discovery of PFAS contamination in private wells in Fairfield, Maine in 2020 heightened public awareness of PFAS compounds in commercial products and PFAS contamination in the environment and drinking water.
How much is too much PFAS in drinking water?
There is currently no federal or State of Maine regulatory standard established for PFAS in drinking water. Because of the lack of a federal regulatory standard, several States have developed their own standards. Of the five states that have adopted regulatory standards, it appears that Massachusetts has established the lowest regulatory level of 20 parts per trillion (also referred to as 20 nanograms per liter, or ng/L). This standard applies to the cumulative levels of six different PFAS compounds.
Is there PFAS in Kennebec Water District’s Water?
Although there is currently no regulatory requirement for ongoing PFAS testing, KWD proactively began testing for PFAS in 2019. Water test results show PFAS levels in KWD’s water is below 8 parts per trillion (less than half of the lowest regulatory limit in the country).
Health regulatory limits are generally set at concentrations where no identified adverse health effect is seen. In cases where PFAS levels are greater than 20 parts per trillion in drinking water, action should be taken to reduce the amount of PFAS taken in.
KWD has had the water tested three times since 2019 with results at 6.1, 8.0, and 7.6 parts per trillion. These low levels demonstrate ongoing consistency in water quality that consumers can trust.
What do I need to do?
Because PFAS levels in KWD’s water are well below the lowest established health thresholds in the country, you do not need to take any action. KWD will inform the public if PFAS levels increase or other regulatory limits are established.
What additional steps will KWD be taking?
As part of KWD’s commitment to ensure the water served continues to meet all regulatory health standards, KWD will continue to monitor PFAS levels in the water we serve to our customers. PFAS results will be provided to the public as part of our annual water quality reporting available at www.KennebecWater.org or by contacting our business office.
The evolving public health crisis in Fairfield highlights the need to prevent environmental contamination, especially sources of drinking water. KWD will continue to take appropriate action to reduce the risk of contamination entering our water source.
For More Information
More information about PFAS in drinking water can be found on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website at: www.epa.gov/pfas.