Reducing Risk of PFAS in Drinking Water
PFAS, short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are chemical compounds manufactured and used for decades to repel water, grease, and oil.
They can be found in many common products, including fire-fighting foam, carpets, clothing, nonstick cookware, food packaging, plastic coating, dental floss, and some high-end ski waxes.
How Can PFAS Get Into the Water Supply?
Because PFAS is so widely used, the chemicals can get into the water cycle in several ways.
Firefighting foam can seep into groundwater supplies. PFAS-containing products in landfills can break down and the chemicals can leach out of the landfill. When PFAS-containing products are washed with water, trace amounts of the chemicals can be carried down the drain and into the community’s wastewater system.
How are PFAS in Drinking Water Regulated?
PFAS don’t easily break down, earning themselves the nickname the “forever chemicals.” Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show most people in the United States have been exposed to some PFAS. Research suggests exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to health impacts.
In 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) issued a health advisory asking drinking water providers to test for two specific kinds of PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) and look for anything over 70 parts per trillion . In June 2022, EPA issued a new, interim health advisory on those two kinds of PFAS in drinking water with significantly lower limits (far lower than that 70 parts per trillion in the 2016 advisory). Learn more about EPA health advisories.
On March 14, 2023, the U.S. EPA proposed the first-ever national standard to limit PFAS in drinking water. The comment period for this proposed rule has ended and a final determination is expected in late 2023. Learn more here.
What is the JWC Doing about PFAS?
The JWC is committed to ensuring a clean, high-quality water supply for our partners and wholesale customers. We are dedicated to work with legislators, state and local regulators, and other drinking water utilities on how to best find, control, remove, and prevent PFAS contamination in water.
Staff are actively following the U.S. EPA’s regulatory process and continually evaluating technologies and treatment options to address PFAS in drinking water.
Through the UCMR 3 process spanning 2013 and 2015, the JWC partners tested for PFAS-related compounds in their drinking water and did not detect PFAS above the reportable limit set by the method approved by the U.S. EPA.
How can the community reduce risk of PFAS?
Below are tips to reduce risk of PFAS.
- Install In-Home Water Treatment: In-home water treatment filters containing activated carbon or reverse osmosis membranes have been shown to be effective at lowering the levels of PFAS in water. Learn about certified in-home water treatment filters.
- Contaminated Fish: Avoid eating fish from waterways impacted by PFAS. You can determine which waterways are of concern by contacting your state or tribal fish advisory programs using the U.S. EPA’s list of state, territory, and tribal fish advisory contacts.
- Use PFAS-Free Consumer Goods: Consider using PFAS-free products* to protect your health and reduce the amount of PFAS in circulation.
* The product information on this website does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by City of Hillsboro. It is your responsibility to verify and investigate any products you choose to purchase.
- Call 503-615-6702
- Email the JWC
- Visit or send mail to 150 East Main Street, Third Floor, Hillsboro, Oregon 97123