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Illinois EPA Drinking Water Sampling (PFAS)

EPA Releases Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFAS
On June 15, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released updated Health Advisories (HA) for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Drinking water health advisories provide information on contaminants that may cause health effects and are known or anticipated to occur in drinking water. They are non-enforceable and non-regulatory and include information on analytical methods and treatment. HA levels provide information that indicates the safe levels of exposure through drinking water over the course of a person’s lifetime to avoid adverse health effects. These levels are calculated to offer a margin of protection that also takes into account exposure through other sources beyond drinking water. It is important to note the HA for PFOA and PFOS is below the Minimum Reporting Level (MRL). (See EPA fact sheet.)

The HAs are:

Final Lifetime Health Advisories 
Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (GenX) - 10 ng/L
Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS) - 2,000 ng/L

Interim Lifetime Health Advisories
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOA) - 0.004 ng/L
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) - 0.020 ng/L
The interim lifetime PFOA and PFOS HAs replace the previous 70 ppt advisory value released in 2016. 


Illinois EPA Drinking Water Sampling (PFAs)
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) recently tested our water system for compounds known as Perfluoroalkyls and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) as part of a statewide investigation of community water supplies. PFAS are a group of thousands of manmade chemicals that have been produced in the United States since the 1940s and utilized for a variety of applications ranging from non-stick cookware, water-repellant and stain-resistant fabrics to firefighting foams. Some PFAS have been phased out of production in the U.S. due to environmental and human health concerns, however they are considered “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment.

Neither the Illinois EPA nor the U.S. EPA have yet developed enforceable drinking water standards for PFAS. In the interim, the Illinois EPA has developed health-based guidance levels for the small number of PFAS for which there is appropriate information to do so. The health-based guidance levels are intended to be protective of all people consuming the water over a lifetime of exposure. It is important to understand that health-based guidance levels are not regulatory limits for drinking water. Rather, the health-based guidance levels are benchmarks against which sampling results are compared to determine if additional investigation or other response action is necessary.

Illinois EPA testing in August and September 2021 determined that one or more PFAS were detected in the Glencoe water system at values greater than or equal to the Illinois EPA health-based guidance levels, as provided in the table below.

Based on these initial results, the Glencoe Water Utility began quarterly testing in December 2021 on both the raw water (Lake Michigan) and finished tap water, and for two consecutive quarters those samples have all come back as not detected (ND). The Glencoe Water Utility will continue quarterly sampling and provide updates as needed.

PFAS Testing

PFAS Analyte

Acronym

Collection Date

Level Detected (ng/L)

Health-Based Guidance Level (ng/L)

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid

PFOS

8/3/2021

2.3

14

Perfluorooctanoic acid

PFOA

8/3/2021

2.3

2

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid

PFOS

9/2/2021

2.5

14

Perfluorooctanoic acid

PFOA

9/2/2021

2.3

2

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid

PFOS

12/6/2021

ND

14

Perfluorooctanoic acid

PFOA

12/6/2021

ND

2

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid

PFOS

3/7/2022

ND

14

Perfluorooctanoic acid

PFOA

3/7/2022

ND

2

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid

PFOS

6/6/2022

ND

.020*

Perfluorooctanoic acid

PFOA

6/6/2022

ND

.004*

Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid

GenX

6/6/2022

ND

10*

Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid

PFBS

6/6/2022

ND

2000*

Minimum reporting level (MRL) = 2.0 ng/L
ng/L: nanograms per liter or parts per trillion – or one ounce in 7,350,000,000 gallons of water.
ND: not detected
*Per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) update June 2022

Glencoe’s water may contain other PFAS at concentrations greater than or equal to the lowest concentration the laboratory can reliably detect, known as the minimum reporting level. However, neither the Illinois EPA nor the U.S. EPA currently have health-based guidance levels for these additional compounds. Results can also be found on the PFAS Investigation Network Interactive Map webpage

PFAS are also present in many consumer goods, including food packaging and personal care products, and scientists have found trace amounts of PFAS in the blood of nearly all individuals tested. Exposure to high levels of PFAS may cause adverse health effects such as increased cholesterol levels, increased risk for thyroid disease, low infant birth weights, reduced response to vaccines, pregnancy-induced hypertension and increased risk of liver and kidney cancer as seen in studies of laboratory animals. Exposure to PFAS above the recommended health-based guidance levels does not necessarily mean that a person will get sick or experience any adverse health effects. Health-based guidance levels are conservative estimates. The possible health effects from PFAS are dependent on a number of factors including how much a person is exposed to and how long they are exposed to it. Exposure to PFAS above recommended health-based guidance levels for periods of time may mean that a person is at a greater risk of experiencing these adverse effects.

Additional information regarding PFAS, the statewide PFAS investigation network, and the impact to public health can be found in the attached fact sheet as well as on the Illinois EPA PFAS webpage.  

The confirmed sampling results for the Glencoe Water Utility are also available on Illinois EPA's Drinking Water Watch system here.  

If you have questions, please contact:

Village of Glencoe
Alex Urbanczyk, Water Plant Superintendent
aurbanczyk@villageofglencoe.org
(847) 461-1651

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Barb Lieberoff, Office of Community Relations
epa.pfas@illinois.gov 
(217) 524-3038

Illinois Department of Public Health
Brian Koch, Division of Environmental Health
Brian.Koch@illinois.gov
(217) 782-5830



Background

How do PFAS cycle through the environment?

Additional Information and Resources