How have region’s drinking water systems fared among the rest of Ohio?

Ohio so far has tested 400 public water systems statewide for so-called “forever chemicals,” and the potentially deadly contaminants have been found in a small percentage of drinking water.

However, all of the Dayton region’s public water systems that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has sampled to date have shown little or no signs of PFAS, according to the agency. A combined 23 water systems have been tested in Clark, Champaign, Shelby Greene, Darke and Miami counties.

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PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” were once used in manufacturing, carpeting, upholstery, food packaging and other commercial and military uses. The substances were — and still are, in some places — used to extinguish fires that couldn’t be extinguished with water alone. The chemicals have been linked to birth defects and other health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“(Statewide) testing is still scheduled for completion by the end of 2020, which will help us understand PFAS occurrence at Ohio public water systems,” said Heidi Griesmer, an agency spokesperson.

The testing is part of Ohio’s PFAS action plan for drinking water, which was released in December. In the summer of 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine directed the state EPA and health department to develop the plan in an effort to address potential threats to both public and private drinking water systems.

The Ohio EPA plans to test the more than 1,500 public water systems across the state for the chemicals, officials have said.

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Since February, when the sampling started, Clark and Champaign counties have had the most tests in the Miami Valley with eight and six, respectively, according to Ohio EPA data.

Possum Elementary School-North’s water system in Clark County is the only one in the region that has shown signs of PFAS so far, the Ohio EPA said. However, the levels are so low that no action is required, according to agency guidelines.

The U.S. EPA recommends that PFAS levels should not exceed 70 parts per trillion.

In all, 93% of the state’s public water systems that have been tested are determined to be safe to drink, Griesmer said. High levels of the chemicals were detected in 28 public water systems in parts of the state, she said.

“If PFAS are detected, additional treatment or other source are often required, and Ohio EPA proactively works with our water systems to address issues,” Griesmer said.

The samplings started with Ohio’s 250 daycare facilities and schools that have their own public water systems. However, testing was suspended a month after it began because of the COVID-19, officials said. Testing resumed June.

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Levels of PFAS were discovered in both Dayton and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base drinking water supplies several years ago and both took the appropriate steps to minimize the risk to people, the Ohio EPA has said.

Starting in 2016, the city of Dayton shut down some drinking water wells where PFAS was detected. It also has sued the chemical manufacturers, and city officials have refrained from discussing the PFAS issue because of the lawsuit.

The state’s PFAS action plan and the testing will not effect Dayton, which supplies drinking water to more than 400,000 people, including Montgomery County residents, Mike Powell, the city’s water director, has said. That’s because the city already monitors the raw and effluent water at its water treatment plants monthly, he said.

In addition, Dayton recently purchased new equipment to enhance PFAS testing, Powell said.

Locations in area counties that have been tested for PFAS:

  • Clark: 8
  • Champaign: 6
  • Miami: 4
  • Shelby: 2
  • Darke: 2
  • Greene: 1