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Doylestown Borough posts PFAS information page


Doylestown Borough recently posted a new page on its website, providing residents with information on PFAS contamination in the community’s water supply.

Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are found in a wide variety of products such as firefighting foams, non-stick cookware, floor polishes and stain resistant products. They are known to cause many serious health problems, including cancers, cardiovascular and thyroid diseases and immune system disorders.

A study to consider treatment options for the community’s drinking water is expected to be ready this fall, officials said.

While the borough’s PFAS levels remain well below the current federal guideline of 70 parts per trillion, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent interim health advisory dropped those levels to 0.004 parts per trillion for PFOA and 0.02 ppt for PFOS. The agency has indicated it intends to drop the maximum containment level to zero.

“Communities have suffered far too long from exposure to these forever chemicals. The action announced today will improve transparency and advance EPA’s aggressive efforts to confront this pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan, in a statement this summer.

Doylestown’s Manager, John Davis ,said the EPA announcement surprised many municipal leaders in Pennsylvania and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, which had been preparing to set its own standards for the first time this year.

While the borough has been testing its wells for PFAS, the general term used for perfluoroalkyl substances, since 2016, it wasn’t until 2019 the potent pollutants were detected, as testing became more sophisticated, Davis said in an earlier interview.

“We don’t think it’s growing,” he added. “We will meet state guidelines of 0.14 for PFOA and 0.18 for PFOS.” However, Davis stressed, “our planning is based on zero. It’s not any cheaper to treat to 0.14 than it is to zero.”

The expense to the small borough of about 8,500 residents will be extraordinary, regardless the treatment option chosen. Davis estimated the cost between $7.5 million and $10 million, with annual maintenance costs nearing $300,000. By comparison, Doylestown’s water budget today is $1.4 million

The borough, along with many other similarly affected communities, is preparing to seek grant money from the first $1 billion of funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

As it considers current treatment technologies such as granular activated carbon, ion exchange and reverse osmosis, Davis said, engineers will be comparing operational costs, size and design. “Our wells are located in small areas,” the manager noted.

While most U.S. manufacturers have phased out PFOA and PFOS, these substances still are in limited use. Studies have shown that PFOA and PFOS remain in the environment and do not degrade over time.

To learn more about PFAS, its impact on Doylestown Borough’s water system, the implications for your health, and the steps being taken to address it, visit the borough’s new PFAS informational page:

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