The agency has standards for 91 contaminants in drinking water, and the Safe Drinking Water Act requires the EPA to identify up to 30 additional unregulated contaminants for monitoring every five years. Last week, the EPA released a list of 28 chemicals and two viruses to be monitored by about 6,000 public water systems as part of the unregulated contaminant monitoring program.
“The monitoring that will take place will provide EPA with invaluable information about what municipalities are seeing in their drinking water all across the country,” said EPA acting assistant administrator for Water Nancy Stoner. “The results of this multi-year monitoring effort will help inform EPA’s work to ensure Americans receive safe drinking water.”
The EPA will spend more than $20 million to support the project, which will provide a clearer picture of the frequency and levels at which these contaminants are found in drinking water systems nationwide. It will also help regulators determine whether additional protections are needed to ensure safe drinking water.
Using methods perfected as recently as 2009, the EPA has called on all public water systems serving more than 10,000 people and 800 smaller systems to monitor for C8 over a 12 month period from January 2013 through December 2015. The reporting threshold for PFOA (also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or C8) is .02 parts per billion – or 20 parts per trillion – far less than levels detected in local water supplies.
The presence of the manufacturing substance in area water supplies lead to a class action lawsuit brought by Mid-Ohio Valley residents against DuPont who used the compound at nearby Washington Works in the production of Teflon since the mid 1950s.
To resolve the suit, the court appointed the C8 Science Panel – a group of three epidemiologists – to determine if it was “more likely than not” that exposure could be linked to disease. In December, the science panel released their initial set of probable link findings and announced a link between C8 exposure and pregnancy induced hypertension. Last month, the panel linked C8 to kidney and testicular cancer. Their final reports are expected before the end of July. Consequently, a three-member medical panel has been appointed to determine what type of medical monitoring should be made available to the members of the class in response to the epidemiologists’ findings.
In the meantime, a federal lawsuit brought by the Little Hocking Water Association against DuPont over the contamination of their aquifer and wellfield is ongoing.