On June 15, 2022, EPA issued new lifetime health advisories for four PFAS compounds. The advisory publishes a level for each compound below which no adverse health effects are anticipated based on the best available science. The new advisories are as follows:
PFOS - 0.02 parts per trillion. This compound is regularly found in our water. Over the past several years it has averaged 3.1 parts per trillion with a maximum of 7.2 parts per trillion.
PFOA - 0.004 parts per trillion. This compound is also found in our water on a routine basis. It has averaged 5.5 parts per trillion with a maximum of 13.6 parts per trillion.
PFBS - 2000 parts per trillion. Also routinely found in our water with an average concentration of 2.0 parts per trillion.
GenX (HFPO-DA) - 10 parts per trillion. This compound has not been detected in our water.
EPA's previous advisory for PFOS/PFOA was 70 parts per trillion, individually and combined so the new advisory levels are a very dramatic change. The detection limit for these four compounds is approximately 1.7 parts per trillion. The new PFOS/PFOA levels are far below our current ability to detect.
There are several practical implications for these new advisories. PFBS and GenX health advisory levels are well above the detection limit and are easily determined. However, the levels for PFOS and PFOA pose some challenges. The limits are so low that it could be years before concentrations can be accurately measaured in parts per quadrillion. Until then, we can't be sure if any treatment system is able to revove PFAS/PFOA to below these levels. All that can be said is that a non-detect using current methods is better than having a quantifiable detection.