DDN Investigates: Dangerous Chemicals

County expresses concern about region’s drinking water quality

Montgomery County officials released a statement just before 5 p.m. Friday expressing concern about the quality of the region’s drinking water. 

The statement said there is no immediate threat but raised concerns about the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination in the city of Dayton’s water supply. PFAS can cause adverse health effects. 

Montgomery County provides water to roughly 250,000 people in Montgomery and Greene counties and purchases its water from the city of Dayton. 

“If we felt our community was immediately threatened, we would absolutely advise citizens to cease water consumption. That isn’t the case, but it has raised enough flags for us to involve the Ohio (Environmental Protection Agency),” said county administrator Michael Colbert in the statement. 

Dayton Deputy City Manager Tammi Clements said Friday night in a press conference that Dayton’s water supply is safe.

RELATED: Progress slow in addressing chemicals in local water systems: Here’s what we found

“Dayton continues at this time, and we believe into the future, to meet and exceed all water quality standards,” Clements said. “Our customers should have absolutely no concerns about the water quality.”

County spokeswoman Deb Decker said under the county’s agreement to buy its water from Dayton, the city is required to routinely monitor and update the county on PFAS levels. But the city hasn’t provided an update in more than a year, she said.

“Not only do we not know what the levels are, but we don’t know what the city’s plan is to mitigate or treat PFAS,” Decker said.

Clements said the city has been in communication with the county about the water.

Decker did not say why the county decided to express this concern with a press release at the end of the working day Friday.

Some studies have shown that PFAS exposure may cause health problems such as developmental issues in children, impact fertility, interfere with hormones, cholesterol and the immune system and increase the risk of certain types of cancers.

A Dayton Daily News investigation in March of PFAS in the area’s drinking water supply found that the U.S. EPA recommends drinking water not contain the chemical at levels above 70 parts per trillion. The city of Dayton and Montgomery County notified customers in 2018 when levels breached 12.5 parts per trillion in March and 7 parts per trillion in April.

This is around last time the city communicated numbers to the county, Decker said.

Colbert said Montgomery County notified the city that the county will conduct its own study “of the extent of the contamination entering our distribution systems from the city.”

RELATED: What you need to know about chemicals in water

“We are working collaboratively with the Ohio EPA to identify the appropriate entry points in the county’s distribution system to conduct PFAS testing,” Colbert said.

County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman stated, “Protecting the health of our citizens is not something I take lightly. We, the Montgomery County commissioners, all feel it was our duty to work with the city and the Ohio EPA to resolve these issues.”

The release says the county will release the results of its tests to the public once complete.

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