Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) are fluorinated organic chemicals that have been used in the making of domestic products such as carpets, cookware and other products that are resistant to water, grease or stains. PFOA and PFOS have also been used for suppressing fires, primarily at airfields and military bases.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most people have been exposed to PFOA and PFOS because they are used in an array of consumer products. PFOS was voluntarily phased out of production by its primary manufacturer in the United States between 2000-2002, and eight other major companies voluntarily agreed to phase out their global production of PFOA-related chemicals in 2006. There remain a limited number of ongoing uses for the chemicals.

While consumer products and food are a large source of exposure to these chemicals for most people, drinking water can be an additional source in the small percentage of communities where these chemicals have infiltrated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility, such as an industrial facility where these chemicals were produced or used to manufacture other products or an airfield at which they were used for firefighting.

PFOA and PFOS are unregulated drinking water contaminants addressed in the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3). In May 2016, the EPA issued a health advisory regarding PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, reducing the health advisory level of these compounds from 400 parts per trillion (PPT) for PFOA and 200 PPT for PFOS to a combined level of 70 PPT. The EPA established this health advisory level to offer a margin of protection from adverse health effects for a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at this level.

On Aug. 23, 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) updated state guidelines that lower the current notification levels to 5.1 PPT for PFOA and 6.5 PPT for PFOS. The response levels for PFOA and PFOS remain at 70 PPT for the total combined concentration of the two constituents.

Golden State Water routinely monitors and tests its water, and water quality test results are directly submitted from the State-certified laboratory to DDW and recorded on the State’s website for full transparency. Click here to view test results on the DDW website. Golden State Water also makes water quality information available via annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR).

As your water provider, we continually invest in water infrastructure, treatment and testing and take great pride in providing you with high-quality, reliable water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:   Is EPA going to establish a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS?
A:   EPA is evaluating PFOA and PFOS as drinking water contaminants in accordance with the process required by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). To regulate a contaminant under SDWA, EPA must find that it: (1) may have adverse health effects; (2) occurs frequently (or there is a substantial likelihood that it occurs frequently) at levels of public health concern; and (3) there is a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for people served by public water systems. EPA included PFOA and PFOS among the contaminants for which water systems are required to monitor under the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3) in 2012.

Q:   How are PFOA and PFOS removed from source waters?
A:  PFOA and PFOS can be removed using a number of advanced drinking water treatment technologies, including Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), ion exchange, and blending treatment processes.

Resources for Additional Information

State Water Resources Control Board

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (PFOA/PFOS Fact Sheet)