Tests show water from the tap has lower PFAS levels

While samples from wells triggered advisory, analysis of water that goes to homes indicates low amounts of ‘forever chemicals’
Ozaukee Press staff

The Village of Saukville, which last month issued a drinking water advisory after tests of water from two of its five wells showed that levels of so-called “forever chemicals” exceeded state health standards, last week released test results that show the level of PFAS in water that comes out of residents’ faucets is well below those standards.

The difference is in where the water samples were taken from, and Saukville Water Utility Supt. Dale Kropidlowski said the latest results should assure residents that the water they drink is safe.

“To me, these (the latest) results are the most important because they put residents’ mind at ease when it comes to the water in their homes,” he said this week.

Samples that triggered the drinking water advisory last month were taken directly from two of the village’s five wells this summer.

But as Kropidlowski pointed out last month, the wells do not individually serve specific areas of the village. Instead, water from all wells is combined in the distribution system, and because three of the wells showed only scant or no amounts of PFAS — or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — the amount of the chemicals in the water piped to homes may be significantly less.

Initial tests of distribution samples suggest that is the case.

The combined average amount of PFOS, a widely studied compound in the PFAS family of chemicals, in two distribution samples was 2.6 parts per trillion. The average amount of another compound —PFOA — was .91 ppt. Those amounts are significantly lower then the Wisconsin Department Health Services recommended limit of 20 ppt.

The village plans to tests additional samples taken from the distribution system.

The village is testing its drinking water for PFAS voluntarily ahead of mandatory testing expected to be required of communities of its size in March but was compelled by state regulations to issue an advisory last month after well tests showed the combined level of PFAS compounds in Well 4 was 25.2 ppt in July and 28.95 ppt in August.

Communities are required to issue advisories when PFAS exceed 20 ppt, which is the health action limit recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Samples taken from the village’s Well 1 were below the 20 ppt threshold but were noted in the advisory because of their hazard index calculation, which is also determined by the Department of Health.

PFAS, referred to as forever chemicals because they remain in both the environment and human body for extended periods of time, are a group of man-made chemicals used in clothing and carpet for their water and stain-resistant qualities as well as in nonstick cookware, packaging and firefighting foam.

They have been linked to types of testicular and kidney cancers, lower birth weights, damage to immune and reproductive systems and altered hormone regulation.

Although initial tests show that significant PFAS levels in two of the village’s wells are essentially diluted when combined with water from the other wells to the point where they are well below health regulations, the village may still have to make changes to its water system depending on Environmental Protection Agency PFAS regulations that are still being developed, Kropidlowski said.

“They are focused on the entry point at the wells, not the distribution system, and they seem to want to see levels (of PFAS) that are so low labs can’t detect them,” he said.

Kropidlowski noted that PFAS are measured in tiny units. One ppt is the equivalent of one droplet of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool, which holds about 660,000 gallons of water.

Users of water contaminated by PFAS can help protect themselves by using purified or filtered bottled water or filtering water from their taps with granular activated carbon filters that meet ANS/NSF Standard 53 or reverse osmosis filters with an activated carbon component.

Boiling water does not remove PFAS.

Results of the village’s PFAS tests, the drinking water advisory and information about the chemicals can be found on the village’s website at www.village.saukville.wi.us/411/PFAS-Information.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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