State plans more tests after ‘forever chemicals’ found in more wells

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A look at PFAS

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Contamination has been found in a third private well north of Aullwood Audubon Farm Discovery Center, where levels of a group of “forever chemicals” were detected last fall, prompting a local water quality experts to call on the state to do more aggressive testing.

Kara Maynard and her husband, Tim Hudson, learned this month that the contamination was detected in their drinking water at their home in the Mill Creek neighborhood, three miles north of Aullwood in Butler Twp. in Montgomery County. On Saturday the state of Ohio also said that it detected levels of the chemicals, known as PFAS, in two of 18 wells it tested this month.

State officials said they plan to sample additional wells in the area to determine the extent of the contamination. A Wright State University groundwater contamination expert said additional testing is necessary, but the state’s plan should be aggressive and quickly determine the source of the contamination in the area.

Explore‘Forever chemicals’ detected in two private wells near Aullwood farm in Dayton

Maynard and Hudson tested their well in late January after local and state health officials urged homeowners in the area to sample their drinking water for the chemicals. Six PFAS compounds were detected in their well at a combined level of nearly 74 parts per trillion. A part per trillion is the equivalence of a grain of sand in an Olympic-size pool or a pinch of salt in 10 tons of potato chips.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s action level is 70 ppt.

“It was worth it for us to spend the money and find out because we’re concerned about our health and we’re concerned about our children’s health,” Maynard said. “They’re growing, they’re developing, and who knows what these kinds of chemicals will do to them in the long run?”

Exposure to PFAS or ― per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ― can 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 said.

In October, the Ohio EPA, while testing all 1,553 public water systems across the state, detected PFAS levels of 96 ppt at Aullwood. Officials then sent letters to 180 homeowners in the neighborhoods surrounding the facility, asking them to test their wells for the group of contaminants, dubbed forever chemicals for their longevity. The state then selected to test 18 wells as a courtesy to homeowners, and results show two of the wells have levels of the contaminants below 70 ppt.

ExploreState to test 18 private Dayton area wells for ‘forever chemicals’

The state should develop an aggressive testing plan, and not just randomly test the wells, said Abinash Agrawal, a groundwater remediation expert and professor at Wright State. The plan should be an intelligent one, based on trends, but not rigid, he said. If the three wells are showing levels of PFAS, other wells within that triangle are likely contaminated, he added. It’s possible that wells beyond that triangle are tainted as well, he said.

Given the latest information, the Ohio Department of Health is working on a plan to test an additional 18-20 wells, said Lance Himes, the agency’s senior deputy director. They are working with Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County to compile a list of homeowners in the area and get permission to sample their water, he said.

ODH will determine which wells to test based on the locations of the two that have PFAS levels and take into account what the geology is in the area and the direction of groundwater flow, said Rebecca Fugitt, ODH’s assistant chief of the Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection.

“We’re trying to expand out from the areas that we’ve sampled so that we can get a better understanding of the locations that may or may not have contaminations,” she said.

The next round of testing will help officials understand the scope of the problem so they can determine the next action steps, if any, said Dan Tierney, Gov. Mike DeWine’s spokesman.

Explore‘Forever chemicals’ found in 24 drinking water systems in region

Maynard and Hudson tested the water directly from their well, and they’ve since sampled the water after went through their home’s filtration system, which was designed to catch contaminants other than PFAS. They’re awaiting those results, Maynard said, noting that they installed the filtration system when they moved into the home a little more than two years ago.

Until the PFAS was detected at Aullwood, which Maynard and her family visited regularly, they had not heard of the group of chemicals.