New Jersey officials announced June 1 that the state has formally adopted some of the most stringent standards in the nation for two chemicals found in drinking water. According to NorthJersey.com, the move will require all operators of public water systems to begin testing for the chemicals PFOA and PFOS by April 1, 2021.
If water exceeds the new standards — 14 parts per trillion for PFOA and 13 parts per trillion for PFOS — utility operators would have to install treatment systems or take wells offline.
The two chemicals belong to a larger class of chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that were used widely for decades in many commercial and industrial processes. PFOA has been a key ingredient for nonstick cookware, and PFOS was used in metal plating.
Nearly one in five New Jersey residents have received tap water that contains at least trace amounts of one of these chemicals, including those in Garfield, Ridgewood, Fair Lawn, Wallington and Hawthorne, some of which have already installed treatment systems.
The move comes after Gov. Phil Murphy's administration last year ordered five companies responsible for widespread pollution of drinking water systems with PFAS to spend millions of dollars to assess the extent of contamination and eventually clean up the pollution. The directive by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) targets some of the biggest chemical manufacturers in the nation: 3M, DuPont, DowDuPont, Chemours and Solvay.
The rules adopted Monday also add PFOA and PFOS to New Jersey's list of hazardous substances. Anyone cleaning up contaminated sites will now have to get rid of the chemicals in groundwater in order for the project to be approved by state regulators.