Hazardous PFAS chemicals in Georgia’s drinking water

By Julia de Amorim, Brendan O’Flaherty, Nicholas Harbin, and P. Signe White
Journ of Sci. Policy & Gov.
September 16, 2019

Polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals found in Georgia’s groundwater that have been linked to serious adverse health effects including thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, testicular and kidney cancers, low infant birth weight, and low vaccine efficacy. Among other reports of PFAS contamination, the United States Air Force recently found high levels of PFAS groundwater contamination in three Georgia air bases. In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a non- regulatory “Lifetime Health Advisory” for two PFAS - perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) - recommending a lifetime limit of 70 parts-per-trillion (ppt). However, lifetime health advisories are not enforceable by law and some toxicology studies suggest that PFAS are unsafe at levels below 70 ppt. Eight states have adopted or proposed legally-enforceable maximum contaminant levels of PFAS in groundwater and more states are expected to propose such legislation. We recommend that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR) adopt a maximum contaminant level for PFAS at 27 ppt.

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