PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced last week that it will allocate $3 million in Safe Drinking Water Act funds to test public water systems for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
PFAS are man-made chemicals with fire-retardant properties used for carpet and textiles, food packaging and other industrial needs. Drinking water can expose people to these chemicals which can lead to negative health effects over time, according to a press release.
ADEQ will test water systems that serve more than 3,300 customers, which is the standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency, and fewer than 3,300 people, which account for 90% of the state’s water systems, according to the release.
“Sampling all public water systems is critical to understanding where PFAS is so that steps can be taken to reduce people’s exposure to PFAS in drinking water and to connect affected public water systems to funding sources to achieve solutions,” ADEQ Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore said in the release.
The department has conducted 207 of the 287 system tests done thus far, and PFAS have been detected in 56.
Solutions include installing a PFAS treatment unit, turning off an impacted well so long as other wells are in production and implementing in-home point-of-use water treatment systems, according to the release.
“The PFAS data we’ve collected since 2018, along with our statewide sampling effort over the next year, have well-positioned Arizona to identify and work with public water systems to address PFAS drinking water challenges early,” Baggiore said.
“Our proactive efforts also will ensure that Arizona’s public water systems — including small systems — are able to leverage existing funding sources as well as new sources we expect to become available this fall.”
ADEQ is partnering with the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona to conduct the tests, inform consumers and take steps in limiting exposure.
The EPA announced new drinking water health advisories on June 15 to address PFAS contaminants in drinking water.
The agency is set to propose a PFAS National Drinking Water Regulation this fall.
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