Property owners offered free well testing to ensure safe water

Meetings set this month for residents to discuss the free well testing program

Nearly two years after elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found in public drinking sources at Aullwood Audobon Farm Discovery Center, nearby property owners will be eligible for free well testing.

About 300 residences near the Dayton International Airport are eligible to receive the testing as officials work to ensure water in Butler Twp. and neighboring communities is safe after the “forever chemicals” were found in the nearby park.

The area selected for free testing was defined by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said Matt Hilliard, director of Montgomery County Environmental Services.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that are used in products such as carpeting, upholstery, cookware, food packaging and firefighting foam. Contamination from manufacturing operations and firefighting activities can migrate through soil, posing potential threats to surface and ground waters.

Two meetings have been set up for residents who live in the recommended well sampling area to learn more about the process.

The majority of the eligible addresses are in Butler Twp., with a few in Vandalia and Union. Environmental consulting firm Bennett and Williams, Inc. was hired to administer a sampling program that will provide the free well testing.

ExploreButler Twp., county address PFAS water contamination in residents’ wells

In October 2020, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency discovered elevated levels of PFAS in Aullwood Audubon Farm Discovery Center’s water system. Last year the township was made aware of the presence of PFAS in the drinking water wells of some residents.

Anyone who lives within the recommended well sampling area can sign up at https://arcg.is/0qevar.

The first meeting to discuss the testing with Bennett and Williams is Sunday between 2 and 4 p.m. at the Aullwood Audubon Farm, 9101 Frederick Pike. The second meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 22 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at the Butler Twp. Meeting Hall, 3780 Little York Road.

Montgomery County Environmental Services Public Information Officer Megan O’Leary said Bennett and Williams employees will coordinate with residents to collect the water samples, ideally from an outside spigot to avoid any residential treatment of the water. It will take about four to six weeks to get the results, she said, depending on how many people sign up for the testing.

Oct. 15 is the last day to sign up for the free well testing.

“Free sampling and testing are important to ensure that residents are fully aware of what is in their well water when it comes to PFAS,” Hilliard said. “By removing the cost associated with these procedures, it incentivizes residents to have the testing done.”

Montgomery County commissioners have approved about $400,000 for the Butler Twp. water quality project, records show.

People who live outside of the area can watch a replay of the meetings on Butler Twp.’s website. They can also learn more about the resources available on the website.

Explore‘Forever chemicals’ detected in at least a dozen private wells in Montgomery County

Since the discovery of PFAS, Butler Twp. has aimed to address the issue in several ways including by paying the tap-in fee for residents to connect to the new City of Union waterline that was installed on Martindale Road and Frederick Pike and dedicated ARPA funds to study and plan infrastructure improvement to ensure clean water, the township’s website says.

The Dayton Daily News reported last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed to designate two of the most widely used PFAS chemicals as “hazardous” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as “Superfund.”

The designation could put polluting businesses and organizations — and even the government itself — on the hook for cleaning contamination, according to supporters of the new rule.

The rule is needed “to give the EPA better tools” to clean contaminated sites and speed the response to new spills, Melanie Benesh, vice president, government affairs at the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, said in an online press conference Thursday.

It will also allow the EPA to direct resources “so it is really the polluter who is paying and not the American taxpayer” for remediation of these chemicals, Benesh said.

“Also this designation will really help the EPA hold the Department of Defense (accountable), which is responsible for a lot of contamination from PFOA and PFAS, in the use of firefighting foam,” she said.

Last year, the Dayton Daily News found that crews at the Dayton International Airport disposed of firefighting foam multiple times in recent years, discharges which followed guidelines in place at the time but which introduced PFAS chemicals into the environment.

In June, the EPA lowered the allowable limits of four types of PFAS in drinking water.

Benesh said the new rule would not ban existing uses of the chemicals, because they have been largely phased out of commerce, and it would impose “minimal new obligations” on PFAS manufacturing.

“It is not going to immediately create new Superfund national priority sites,” she added. “There is an established process that takes time.”

Neither will it create new liabilities for farmers or reopen closed Superfund sites, Benesh also said.

Most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS because the chemicals have been widely used for more than 80 years, the government has said.

About 800 chemicals have been placed on the federal government’s CERCLA hazardous substances list since the Superfund law was created in 1980.


Dangers of PFAS in drinking water:

Exposure to PFAS may affect pregnancy, increase cholesterol levels and cause some forms of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infants and children, pregnant and nursing women, and those who have a compromised immune system might be at a higher risk of health effects from PFAS exposure, health officials have said.

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