South Orange Water Testing Results Are Mixed for Chemical PFOA

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South Orange Township has issued the results of tests of PFOA levels at six sites within the town’s water system, and the picture is mixed: while levels of the chemical rose at the site where it was originally found — Well #17, aka the Meadowbrook Well — it was not detected in high levels at the township’s five other water sites.

In January, PFOA (which is in the family of PFCs), was found in levels exceeding the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s guidelines in Well 17. PFOA is a “likely carcinogen,” according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The water well test then yielded a result of 58 ppt (parts per trillion) — significantly below the Federal EPA Public Health Advisory level of 400 ppt for short term exposure  but above the NJ DEP guideline amount of 40 ppt for lifetime exposure (defined as 70 years.) The township explained that, since the well water is 10% of the supply and is mixed with other water, levels in residents’ water should be well below the federal guidelines.

The new tests show that Well #17 is still above the NJDEP guideline, at 75 ppb, but none of the additional sites tested are in excess of the guidelines.

Here is the full release from the township, which can be found on the town’s website:

As stated in our earlier posting which can be found by clicking the link at the bottom of the page, the Village recently learned of the detection of an unregulated compound, perflourooactanoic acid (PFOA) in water produced by Well #17. PFOA is not currently regulated, nor required to be tested for, by either the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) or the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, scientific studies have shown possible adverse health effects resulting from PFOA exposure. As a result, the NJDEP and the EPA have established guideline levels of PFOA in drinking water and are currently contemplating the regulation and mandatory testing of drinking water for PFOA. The NJDEP guideline is 40 pbb (parts per billion) for a “lifetime” exposure, defined as 70 years of exposure. The EPA guideline is 400 ppb for a “short term” exposure of weeks or months.

As noted in our January posting, the Village’s Well #17 water had previously tested in excess of the NJDEP lifetime exposure guideline, but well below the EPA short term exposure guideline. In addition, the Well #17 water represents only about 10% of the water in our system and no consumer receives 100% Well #17 water. Instead, the Well #17 water is blended with water from EOWC which had not tested in excess of the guidelines. As a result, the Village knew the Well #17 water was diluted, but we did not know the extent of that dilution or blending.

As an initial step, the Village arranged for additional sampling and laboratory testing of both Well #17 water and water from other selected locations in the water system. Those locations were the closest points above and below the point that Well #17 water is introduced into the system, two additional points further downstream from those initial points, as well as a sample taken from the Seton Hall campus.

While the Well #17 water again tested above the NJDEP guideline, we are pleased to report that none of the additional samples tested in excess of the more stringent NJDEP lifetime exposure guideline of 40 ppb. The results were as follows:

Well #17 – 75 ppb

Farrell Field Hydrant – 10 ppb

South Mountain School – 10 ppb

324 Valley Street – 26 ppb

454 Valley Street – 29 ppb

Seton Hall Campus – 32 ppb

The Village has arranged for additional testing and is committed to continued monitoring of the PFOA levels pending a permanent solution. In this regard, the Village has commissioned our water engineer to complete a hydraulic system analysis to confirm the directional flow, concentration and blending of the Well #17 water. In addition, the Village is exploring the flexibility we have in Well #17 production, and specifically our ability to reduce the production and thereby increase the dilution. We are also exploring both interim and permanent GAC (granular activated charcoal) filtration systems to treat the Well #17 and remove the PFOAs.

We will keep the public updated as these efforts continue, but felt that it was important to provide the additional test results which confirm that the blended water in the system being delivered to consumers does not exceed even the most stringent NJDEP 40 ppb “lifetime exposure” guideline.


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