The subject of national attention due to concerns about potential health impacts, PFAS is a family of substances that have been widely used for decades in industry and consumer goods.
Customer and Safety Concerns
- In our region, there have been media reports of PFAS being detected in groundwater near some military bases that used certain firefighting foams. There are still many other commercial and industrial sources that need to be evaluated.
- While there are no federal or state drinking water regulations for PFAS in Pennsylvania, the EPA set a health advisory level of 70 ng/L for PFOA and PFOS combined as a guideline in 2016.
Philadelphia Water Department Actions
In 2019, PWD began voluntarily and proactively testing for PFAS in the city’s rivers and creeks to better understand the occurrence of these compounds in the city’s water supply. This document details the methodology and results of the nearly year-long study. PWD has not detected concentrations at or above the EPA’s health advisory level of 70 ppt (parts per trillion) for PFOA and PFOS combined. Furthermore, results from independent studies led by EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection indicate non-detectable PFAS concentrations in Philadelphia’s drinking water.
Read PWD’s complete PFAS Water Resources Characterization Study →
|Location ID||Description||Number of Samples||Average (ppt)||Min (ppt)||Max (ppt)|
|DELA||Delaware River at Baxter intake||11||8.1||5.3||12.2|
|SCHU1||Schuylkill River at Queen Lane intake||11||12.1||8.6||14.5|
|SCHU2||Schuylkill River at Belmont intake||11||9.7||6.8||16.2|
|PENN||Pennypack Creek at Pine Rd.||11||28.7||19.7||51.0|
|POQU||Poquessing Creek at Holy Family University||11||29.9||15.5||41.0|
|WISS||Wissahickon Creek at Ft. Washington||11||20.0||16.8||24.0|
Treated drinking water samples have been taken from all three of PWD’s drinking water treatment plants as part of the EPA’s national sampling program. All samples were below the EPA health advisory level of 70 ng/L for PFOA and PFOS combined. In addition, all samples were below the reporting limit (the smallest concentration that can be reported by a laboratory) for every PFAS compound during testing in 2013 and 2014:
|PFAS Compound||Reporting Level (ng/L)||Result|
For more information concerning EPA’s sampling program and PWD’s results:
- 2014 Report on 2013 Water Quality (see p. 17)
- 2015 Report on 2014 Water Quality (see p. 17)
- EPA: Monitoring Unregulated Drinking Water Contaminants
PWD is proactively testing for PFAS in source water and has not detected concentrations above EPA’s advisory level.
We are also collaborating with neighboring water utilities to better understand the influence of regional groundwater contamination and stay on top of the latest scientific information.
PWD continues to follow the state and national discussion and latest scientific discoveries to ensure the integrity of our water supply.