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NJ Publishes Formal Drinking Water and Ground Water Quality Standards for PFOA and PFOS
NJ Publishes Formal Drinking Water and Ground Water Quality Standards for PFOA and PFOS

Under rules published this week in the New Jersey Register, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has formally established maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) of 14 ppt for perfluorooctoanic acid (PFOA) and 13 ppt for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The rules also add these chemicals to the state's list of hazardous substances and sets these same MCLs as the formal groundwater quality standards for site remediation and regulated discharges to groundwater.

PFOA and PFOS belong to a large class of synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. PFOA and PFOS are believed to impact liver and immune system function, cause delays in growth and development of fetuses and infants, and increase the risk of cancer. Both PFOA and PFOS were previously used in aqueous film-forming foams for firefighting and training at military and civilian sites, and are found in consumer products such as stain-resistant coatings for upholstery and carpets, water-resistant outdoor clothing, and grease-proof food packaging. PFOA has also been used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers used in non-stick cookware and other products while PFOS was used in metal plating and finishing. To date, New Hampshire and Vermont are the only other states to advance formal drinking water standards for PFAS.

Under the new regulations, all public water systems must begin monitoring for PFOA and PFOS within the first quarter of 2021. If a system's drinking water exceeds the MCL, it will be required to take necessary measures such as adding treatment systems or taking wells out of service. All results of testing will be made public. Additionally, beginning Dec. 1, 2021, private well owners will be required to test for PFOA, PFOS and PFNA under the requirements of the state's Private Well Testing Act, which requires testing during real estate transactions for private residences or periodic testing for rental properties.

Sites undergoing investigative or remedial activities in New Jersey will now also be required to determine whether these PFAS have been discharged at the site and have impacted ground water. If so, remediation activities must meet the standards referenced above.

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