DES may lower contamination level maximums
Proposal aims to lower figures for PFOA and PFAS in light of study
New scientific information reviewed by the Department of Environmental Services may impact the Maximum Contaminant Levels it proposed at the end of last year after three public hearings are held in March.
In a release posted Feb. 21, the DES said a new assessment tool developed by the Minnesota Department of Health may potentially lower the proposed figures of 38 and 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS.
On Dec. 31, 2018, the DES initiated rulemaking to establish MCLs for four PFAS, PFOA, PFOS, PFNA and PFHxS with levels of 23 ppt for PFNA and 85 ppt for PFHxS.
It reviewed the Minnesota research in early January and issued a release prior to the public hearings that are scheduled in March. Residents are invited to submit public comments prior to those hearings and at the hearings that will be considered before final MCLs are set.
The Minnesota research is one of many on PFAS that DES has considered before and after it proposed MCLs at the end of last year.
“We’re looking at other science and will continue to review any new studies,” said Jim Martin, a DES spokesperson.
DES also posted a report by the Endocrine Disruption Exchange that calls for more substantial reductions of MCLs. The MCLs for PFOA and PFOS should be less than or no more than 2 or 3 ppt, and the MCLs for PFNA and PFHxS should be no more than 2 ppt, it stated.
The report also called on New Hampshire to set MCLs for other PFAS.
“Testing indicates that citizens are also potentially exposed to several other PFAS and the current effort to only set MCLs for four PFASs may leave New Hampshire residents at risk due to exposure to other, non-regulated PFASs,” the report reads.
The report praised New Hampshire as a leader in protecting its citizens from the harmful effects attributed to PFAs, but said, “As our understanding of the most sensitive health endpoints continues to grow, there is no doubt that health effects will be observed at even lower doses than the ones currently known today, especially for PFNA and PFHxS. It is crucial, therefore, that New Hampshire set the most health protective MCLs possible.”
The public hearings, set for March 4, 5 and 12 in Merrimack, Concord and Portsmouth, respectively, will give residents of impacted and other areas the opportunity to challenge MCLs the DES has proposed and provide insights into other research that could impact the final levels it sets.
“We normally only hold one public hearing, but we wanted to make sure residents of impacted communities can attend,” Martin said. “After the hearings conclude, we’ll review all the comments, including those on new studies that will give us additional information we don’t already have.”
Martin is not sure when MCLs will be established.
“It depends on the number of comments we receive and how long it takes to evaluate them against the initial proposal.” he said. “We hope it will be done by early summer.”