Connecticut Updates Guidance on PFAS Drinking Water Action Levels

McCarter & English, LLP

McCarter & English, LLP

On June 15, 2022, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) revised its non-binding standards for Per- and Polyflouroalkyl Substances (PFAS)[1]—and also renewed its call for public water systems to test for PFAS and take action to reduce exposures—based on the following drinking water action levels:

  • 10 parts-per-trillion for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS);
  • 12 parts-per-trillion for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA);
  • 16 parts-per-trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); and
  • 49 parts-per-trillion for perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS)

As a result, the DPH lowered the target drinking water action levels for PFAS from the prior action levels of 70 parts-per-trillion.

These action levels are not enforceable, but rather may be used as guidance by local health departments and private well owners to evaluate whether water is suitable for drinking. There currently are no approved Federal or State universal sampling standards, or enforceable maximum containment levels, for chemicals in the PFAS family.

DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD explained in a Press Release that “[t]he new action levels for individual PFAS reflect the evolving scientific evidence on their toxicity and are more protective of public health than the previous Connecticut action levels.”

In the wake of these revised standards, DPH expects that public water systems test for PFAS, report the results to their customers, and “evaluate actions the water systems can take to reduce exposures.” This includes “taking a source of supply off-line, if possible, blend with other sources or turn to an alternative source of drinking water while the system works with DPH on possible treatment or source replacement.”

On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also issued interim, non-binding PFAS health advisories for drinking water. In doing so, the EPA lowered its health advisory levels for chemicals in the PFAS family even further than the DPH. For instance, under the EPA’s new health advisories, the levels for PFOA and PFOS are .004 parts-per-trillion and .02 parts-per-trillion, respectively.

Navigating the updated PFAS guidance issued by Connecticut and the EPA requires careful, strategic planning.

[1] PFAS are a family of man-made chemicals that have been used in the manufacture of a variety of products due to their useful properties, such as their ability to repel oil and water, prevent staining, and increase heat resistance.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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