PFAS have gained national attention as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally in the environment or in the human body. They are part of a family of thousands prevalent compounds that have been used for decades and still used in products like waterproof materials, non-stick pans, and fast food wrappers.
Due to emerging and established health risks, PFAS are becoming more regulated and decreasing in industrial uses. However, many regions still face challenges with upstream industrial use of PFAS chemicals (See more under North Carolina resources below). You may hear about them in the news and from municipalities working to address any concerns in their areas.
Fortunately, our region in Charlotte-Mecklenburg has not had these same concerns with PFAS and PFOA in drinking water. At this time, PFAS are considered unregulated contaminants by the federal government, but the EPA is expected to announce the first Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS in spring 2023.
MCLs establish a maximum level for which a contaminant can be present in drinking water and require water service providers to not exceed that level, as per the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which means that these compounds will be regulated. Another thing to note is that an MCL is a long-term exposure level – 70 years of drinking 2.5 liters of water daily with PFOA or PFOS at the MCL level.
Charlotte Water proactively and voluntarily monitors for more than 70 per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals quarterly and meets or exceeds all drinking water standards. Monitoring results (available on our unregulated contaminants page) demonstrate very low levels of PFAS/PFOA, with either undetectable levels of PFAS or levels of PFAS barely above the detection limit. All detections are within the anticipated 4ppt MCL. To learn more about your water quality, please visit Charlotte Water’s Water Quality Webpages. Additional resources available below.
Charlotte Water Resources:
- Drinking Water Health Advisories: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/drinking-water-health-advisories-has
- How the EPA Regulates Drinking Water Contaminants: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/how-epa-regulates-drinking-water-contaminants
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Biomonitoring Program Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) Factsheet: https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/PFAS_FactSheet.html
- North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) Action Strategy for PFAS: https://deq.nc.gov/media/30108/open
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/oee/a_z/pfas.html
- North Carolina PFAS Monitoring Network: https://ncpfastnetwork.com/