Perfluorinated Compounds in Drinking Water

The Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) has no role or jurisdiction in the circumstances surrounding PFCs (also known as PFAS or Perfluoroalkyl Substances) in drinking water, specifically as it relates to recent findings in groundwater on and near the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station and Joint Reserve Base. We provide the information below in order to help the community access information and resources that may be helpful.

WHO IS IN CHARGE? 


Assessment of the evolving situation continues to be evaluated by the lead agencies that operate, regulate or monitor the public water supply including:

Horsham Township, Horsham Water and Sewer Authority (HSWA) 
William Walker, Township Manager 
Tina O’Rourke, Business Manager

PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) 
Virginia Cain, Community Relations Coordinator 

PA Department of Health (PADOH) 
Dr. Farhad Ahmed, PI & Health Assessment Section Chief

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
Larry Brown, Community Involvement Coordinator
Linda Watson, Toxicologist 
Dawn Ioven, Toxicologist 

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 
Lora Werner, Region 3 Director 
Karl Markiewicz, PhD, Senior Toxicologist

U.S. Navy and Air National Guard 
Willington Lin, BRAC Environmental Coordinator 
Lt. Col. Jacqueline Siciliano, Environmental Manager, PAANG 

WHAT IS THE CONTEXT/BACKGROUND? 

PFCs are industrial chemicals found in a variety of everyday industrial as well as household use products including fire-fighting foam used at the military base. In July 2014, two types of PFCs were found in Horsham public water supply wells near the base. Based on prior understanding of risk, EPA issued health advisories for water with concentrations of 0.20 and 0.40 parts per billion or ppb for specific PFCs and public wells with higher concentrations of PFCs were removed from service by HSWA as a precautionary measure to protect public health. In May 2016, the EPA determined a Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 0.070 ppb for combined PFCs, a level lower than what was recommended in 2014. For more information, please view this link: Horsham Township

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH RISKS? 


Exposure to PFCs occurs mainly through ingestion. This includes drinking, cooking and brushing teeth. Known facts and information sheets can be found here: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Although use of these chemicals has gradually decreased in the United States over the past ten years, most Americans still have PFCs in their bodies because the chemicals are still found in many common household items including:  
  • Fast food and candy wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and pizza boxes
  • Nonstick cookware, stain-resistant coatings for carpets or upholstery
  • Cleaning products and personal care products
  • Paints, varnishes and sealants 

ATSDR is currently working on a document regarding the toxicity of specific PFCs. Also, they are working with PADOH on a cancer incidence data review to detect any rise in cancer cases in the area of the Naval Air Station. As of yet, no time frame has been set for completion.  

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT PFCS AND PREVENTION?  


Detailed information about PFCs can be found on a variety of local, state and federal websites. Please find an additional link to one of the websites below: Environmental Protection Agency


For a printable version of this document, click here.