Water quality standards and regulations for Alabama (EPA.gov) site information
EPA Reports on Decatur/ WMEL Area PFC Contamination
Why isn’t the EPA Superfund being called upon to clean up the contamination in our river and in our waterways?
The Superfund Program is administered by EPA in cooperation with state and tribal governments. The program gives EPA the funds and authority to clean up polluted sites. Goals of the Superfund program are to: Protect human health and the environment. Involve communities. Make those who are legally responsible pay for the work performed at Superfund sites.
Contact your EPA Environmental Justice Coordinator of EPA Region IV Cynthia Peurifoy at 1-404-562-9649. Without calls, the Superfund will NOT be engaged nor will the EPA continue to pursue the contamination.
Are West Decatur East Lawrence citizens at risk due to contamination?
The questions and answers below are excerpts from the EPA Document provided to Hoosick Falls, NY Residents regarding practices for safety with EPOA and EPOS Contamination.
Can the PFOS and PFOA as well as other chemical contaminants be “boiled” out of the water at homes?
NO. Boiling water contaminated with PFoA and PFOS may further release particles into your home’s air.
The following Questions and Answers are from the EPA regarding the Hoosick Falls Contamination, which is about the same contaminants in Alabama. The EPA has not created a Q/A for Alabama at this time. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-01/documents/hoosickfalls_faqs.pdf
Is it OK to shower or bathe with water from Hoosick Falls?
There is a lack of studies evaluating the human health effects from inhalation and skin exposure to PFOA. Regarding inhalation, the EPA does not believe that routine showering or bathing would cause a significant exposure. A minimal amount of inhalable water droplets (aerosols) are formed during showering or bathing. PFOA also has a very low evaporation rate, which further minimizes inhalation exposure. Nonetheless, the use of bathroom ventilation systems and opening bathroom windows while showering or bathing can help remove the water vapor/aerosols that form during showering or bathing. Similar to inhalation exposure, skin exposure from PFOA while showering or bathing is also not a significant exposure. Studies have shown very limited absorption of PFOA through the skin, and the movement of PFOA through the skin is extremely slow. However, as a precautionary measure and given the limited information on skin exposure, children or people with skin conditions (for example, rashes, cuts and abrasions) should avoid prolonged contact (such as long showers or long baths) with PFOA-contaminated water.
What about teeth brushing? Consistent with the EPA’s recommendation not to use tap water from the Hoosick Falls public water supply for drinking or cooking, the EPA recommends that bottled water be used for brushing teeth.
Can I use a humidifier? Until a treatment system is in place at the public water supply and confirmed to be consistently removing PFOA to acceptable levels, the EPA recommends the use of bottled water for a humidifier.
Can I do laundry and wash my dishes with water from the Hoosick Falls public water supply? Yes. Neither doing laundry nor washing dishes with water from the Hoosick Falls public water supply pose a significant exposure to PFOA. 3
Would an in-home treatment system help filter the PFOA out of the water? Carbon filtration and reverse osmosis are two technologies that can remove low levels of organic contaminants, such as PFOA, from water. While there are currently no commercially available point-of-use (POU) filters (filters attached to a tap) or whole house filters specifically certified by the National Sanitation Foundation to remove PFOA, it is expected that any activated carbon or reverse osmosis system will have the capability of reducing PFOA levels. The Minnesota Department of Health tested several POU water treatment devices and found many to be effective (visit http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/hazardous/topics/pfcs/wateranalysis.html for a summary). If a treatment unit is used, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and operation. Moreover, testing of the treated water periodically would be necessary to ensure that the PFOA level remains below the EPA’s health-based level.
Has the soil been tested for PFOA and is the soil safe? There has been a limited amount of soil testing for PFOA in Hoosick Falls. Additional soil sampling may occur in the future. If PFOA is found in the soil, there are practical actions that would minimize exposure to PFOA. For example, where bare patches of soil are known to have PFOA contamination, grass, mulch, compost, etc. are effective ways to prevent direct contact with the soil. Additionally, don’t eat or smoke or engage in other hand-to-mouth activities while gardening. Is it OK to eat vegetables from my garden? To EPA’s knowledge, no gardens in Hoosick Falls have been tested for PFOA. In general, a number of studies have evaluated the absorption into plants of the whole class of perfluourinated compounds (of which PFOA is one). Absorption into plants depends on the size of the particular perfluourinated compound and its chemistry. Smaller compounds have more uptake. PFOA is a relatively large compound and has lower uptake. Absorption also differs by the type of produce. Root vegetables that grow in the ground and leafy green vegetables (for example, lettuce) generally have greater absorption of chemicals, including PFOA. Root and leafy vegetables also tend to adhere soil to the surface of the produce. If PFOA is found in soil, thoroughly washing root and leafy green vegetables with bottled water will further reduce the minimal exposure to PFOA from growing produce in soil contaminated with PFOA and/or watering produce gardens with PFOA contaminated water. One could also peel root vegetables prior to consumption.
Can PFOA coat the inside of my home’s pipes? Based on the high solubility of PFOA (ability of the chemical to dissolve) in water relative to the concentration found in Hoosick Falls drinking water, it would be unlikely for PFOA to coat the inside of pipes.
Can PFOA be removed from the public water supply? Treatment technologies exist that can remove PFOA from public water supplies. One such technology is granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration. Another is called reverse osmosis. The Village of Hoosick Falls and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics are negotiating an agreement under which Saint-Gobain would pay for the installation of GAC systems at the Village’s water treatment plant. The systems need to be designed carefully to ensure that they will successfully treat the water to remove PFOA to acceptable levels. The New York State Department of Health will be working closely with the Village of Hoosick Falls as the treatment systems are designed with the goal of removing PFOA to the minimum reporting limit that can be reliably achieved by the 4 analytical laboratory when using EPA Method 537. Until the treatment systems are in place and confirmed to be consistently removing PFOA to acceptable levels, the public should not use the Hoosick Falls public water supply for drinking or cooking.
What is being done to address the groundwater contamination? The EPA has begun discussions regarding steps that need to be taken to: a. identify, control and clean up the source or sources of the PFOA contamination of the groundwater; b. determine the full extent of the PFOA contamination; and c. achieve a permanent cleanup remedy for the groundwater contamination and any other possible contamination. How would these actions be paid for? In this case (Hoosick Falls, NY), the EPA expects one or more private parties liable for the pollution to pay for addressing the problems.
The information will be on-going. For now, I can only rely on reports for our area, and data from areas like ours who are further down the road legally and environmentally. We’ve much to learn and to do to stop the contamination, deal with the past contamination and prevent future contamination.