Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) FAQs

For Aquarion’s Water System serving Hampton, North Hampton, and Rye, NH
 

Q:  Where does Aquarion get the water that it provides to residents of Hampton, North Hampton, and Rye?

A:  Water is pumped from 16 state-approved wells in Hampton, North Hampton, Rye and Stratham. It is treated and delivered to customers through an extensive underground piping system.

The water supply serves about 21,200 residents in Hampton, North Hampton and Rye, plus thousands of visitors and tourists.

In 2016, Aquarion’s wells supplied an average of 2.1 million gallons of water per day to the system.

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Q:  What are Perfluorochemicals (PFCs)?

A:  PFCs are a large group of manufactured compounds that are widely used to make everyday products that can repel water and oil, and are resistant to heat and chemical reactions. These compounds are used in the production of waterproof and stain proof fabrics, non-stick cookware, fire-fighting foams, and food packaging. They are also used in a variety of other industries, including aerospace, automotive, building and construction, and electronics.

PFCS can enter a drinking water supply through industrial release to water or air, discharges from sewage treatment plants, leaching from septic systems and landfills, land application of contaminated sludge, and use of fire-fighting foam.

Two specific compounds, Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) are released into the environment when  products containing Teflon or other PFC bearing materials are made, used, or discarded. PFOS is no longer manufactured in the United States, and PFOA production has been reduced and will soon be eliminated.

PFCs have been found in water, air, soil, house dust, and people are also exposed to PFCs through food, consumer products and indoor and outdoor air.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  has issued a lifetime Drinking Water Heath Advisory Limit (HAL) for PFOA and PFOS of 70 parts per trillion (ppt), either individually or when concentrations of PFOA and PFOS are combined.  The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has issued an Ambient Ground Water Quality Standard, also at 70 ppt.  According to health officials, a Health Advisory identifies the concentration of a contaminant in drinking water at which adverse health effects are not anticipated to occur.

Q:  Has Aquarion tested for PFCs in its wells in New Hampshire?

A:  Yes, Aquarion tests the water it provides to its customers for PFCs.  This includes analyzing the water in each of Aquarion’s 16 wells, as well as water leaving our treatment facilities and in the distribution system.

In 2014 and 2015, Aquarion did this testing as a requirement from the EPA.  In 2016 and 2017, Aquarion did this testing voluntarily.

Q:  Has Aquarion found PFCs in the water in its wells in New Hampshire?

A: PFCs have been detected in most of the wells, in most cases at very low concentrations (less than 10% of the 70 ppt Health Advisory Limit). No samples have exceeded the Health Action Level (HAL), and the highest combination of PFOA and PFOS detected was less than 40% of the HAL.

For additional testing details, please click on the link below.

Aquarion Water Company of New Hampshire - Results of Perflourocarbon Samples from Wells, 2014 - 2017

Q:  How did PFCs get into the well water?

A:  Currently, the source of the PFCs found in our wells is unknown.  Due to their presence in so many products used in society, PFCs are now thought to be ubiquitous in the environment. Aquarion is collaborating with the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) to identify the potential sources of these compounds in the water.

Q:  What is Aquarion doing about the PFC issue?

A:  Aquarion continues to monitor PFC concentrations in water samples from our system and reviews this data with NHDES and town officials. Aquarion will continue to work with the health agencies and ground water contamination experts to identify the potential source of PFCs, and to assess the impact of the Coakley Landfill on ground water quality in the area.

Q: Where can I get more information on PFCs?

A:  See the links below for reference information:

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
http://www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pfoa.htm

US Environmental Protection Agency
https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos