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New Jersey adopts new drinking-water standards for two chemicals

New Jersey adopts new drinking-water standards for two chemicals


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on Monday announced the department’s new drinking water standards for two chemicals linked to health problems.

The state began researching and monitoring the two chemicals — perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid — after PFOA was discovered in tap water and public wells near DuPont’s Chambers Works plant in Salem County, according to a news release from the DEP. As a result of that research, New Jersey issued guidelines in 2018 that set the limit in drinking water at 40 parts per trillion.

PFOA and PFOS are used in products such as firefighting foam, stain-resistant clothing and nonstick cookware. Companies like them because they’re durable, but they don’t break down in the environment and they accumulate in people over time, according to the DEP.

That accumulation can damage the liver, cause growth delays and an increased risk of cancer, according to the DEP.

“Safe drinking water is a top priority for the Murphy administration,” DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. “With the adoption of these standards, New Jersey continues to lead the nation in protecting public health and the environment from these chemicals, which have been detected at varying levels across the state. New Jersey’s water systems have worked voluntarily and productively with us over the years, taking steps to protect the public when these chemicals have been detected. By adopting formal standards, we are putting in place a clear regulatory framework that will ensure consistency in monitoring, public notification and treatment across the state.”

All public water systems must begin monitoring within the first quarter of 2021. Maximum contaminant levels cannot exceed 14 parts per trillion for PFOAs and 13 parts per trillion for PFOS’s. More than 1,000 water systems already voluntarily submitted monitoring data.

Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, said in a release his organization supports the new guidelines.

“Clean drinking water is a human right. One in five New Jerseyans drink water contaminated with PFAS/PFOA chemicals. It’s good to know that New Jerseyans will now be protected with some of the strongest standards in the country,” Potosnak said.

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