A new study on potentially dangerous substances found in water is coinciding with the city of Dayton’s own recent findings in a startling coincidence.
Paul Buszka, a supervisory hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Indianapolis, pointed to the release Wednesday of a draft study about the risks posed by PFAS substances (polyfluoralkyl) from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
The study lowers the level at which no harm would be expected into the single digit parts-per-trillion (ppt) range.
According to the study, the proposed “minimum risk levels” of PFAS equate to about 7-ppt and 11-ppt for two compounds.
Those levels are close to levels of similar compounds found in local water this year.
Dayton and Montgomery County have been sending customers notices with the results of recent testing of treated water leaving the city’s Ottawa Water Treatment Plant. The results of March testing show PFAS detected at a level of 7 to 13 parts per trillion.
Experts are reacting to the new study carefully.
“If you’re getting close to those levels — and again this (draft study) was just released — just the idea that those compounds are present is a reason for people to sample and to understand the extent of the issue better,” Buszka said in an interview. “That’s probably as far as I would go with it.”
He referred further questions to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
“Ohio believes strongly WPAFB needs to be more proactive to address PFAS at its source before this contamination can impact additional drinking water wells (either Dayton’s or WPAFB’s). Ohio EPA continues to focus on ensuring Dayton’s and WPAFB’s drinking water wells remain below the current U.S. EPA health advisory level in both water systems,” according to a statement to this news organization.
“Looks like the lower exposure levels may be of concern, although I have not had time to read carefully, only skim,” said Rita Loch-Caruso, a professor of toxicology and water expert at the University of Michigan.
“So what advice to give? It is hard to say without a more careful review,” Loch-Caruso added.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, applauded the release of the draft findings Thursday.
“This is a matter of public health and safety,” Turner said in a statement. “Based on this information, I encourage federal, state, and local environmental regulators to examine whether they are appropriately communicating the risks presented by and adequately addressing the presence of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water. We must ensure agencies at all levels are using the most reliable data and best available science to ensure our drinking water remains safe.”
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