The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed a consent order with E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. that lowers the level of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water for residents surrounding DuPont’s Washington Works facility in West Virginia.
Under the order, DuPont will offer alternative drinking water or treatment for public or private water users living near the Washington Works plant if the level of PFOA detected in drinking water is equal to or greater than 0.50 parts per billion (ppb). The agreement affects people in West Virginia and Ohio living near the Washington Works plant.
This action level replaces the 150 ppb threshold established under a March 2002 EPA consent order. EPA’s lowering of the action level is based on newer data from experimental animal studies and elevated blood serum levels of PFOA found in the population surrounding the plant, as compared to levels found in the general U.S. population. The 0.50 ppb action level is a temporary measure to reduce levels of PFOA exposure for residents while EPA completes research required for the PFOA risk assessment.
PFOA is a synthetic chemical that is not currently regulated under federal environmental laws and has been used at the Washington Works facility since the 1950s.
The chemical is used to make substances with special properties in many industrial applications, including the manufacture of non-stick cookware and all-weather clothing. Studies indicate that PFOA can cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.
The major companies using PFOA, including DuPont, have joined the PFOA Stewardship Program initiated by EPA. These companies have committed to reduce PFOA from emissions and product content by 95 percent by 2010, and to work toward eliminating PFOA emissions and content by 2015.