California OEHHA's notification level recommendations for PFOA & PFOS

August 23, 2019

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is recommending that the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) set the notification levels (NLs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) at the lowest levels at which they can be reliably detected in drinking water using currently available and appropriate technologies.  This recommendation is based on OEHHA’s development of reference levels intended to protect against cancer and noncancer effects, including effects on the liver and immune system.  These recommendations supersede the recommended interim NLs that OEHHA provided to SWRCB in 2018.

PFOA and PFOS are members of a large class of chemicals known as per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that were used in many consumer products for their non-stick and grease- and stain-resistant properties, and also in firefighting foams.  Exposure to PFOA and PFOS above certain levels can cause adverse health effects, including harmful effects to a developing fetus or infant, the immune system and liver, and cancer.  While consumer products are a large source of exposure to these chemicals for most people, drinking water has become an increasing concern due to the persistence and tendency of these chemicals to accumulate in groundwater.

NLs are nonregulatory, health-based advisory levels that SWRCB establishes as a precautionary measure for contaminants for which regulatory standards have not been set.  Certain requirements are triggered when chemicals are detected at levels that exceed their respective NLs.

For more information about PFOA and PFOS, the new guidelines, notification levels and the work SWRCB is doing to assess the presence of these contaminants in drinking water, please visit the Water Board’s website.

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