CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION TAKES ACTION TO ENHANCE PROTECTION OF NEW JERSEY’S DRINKING WATER
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION MOVING FORWARD WITH SCIENCE-BASED HEALTH STANDARDS FOR PFOA AND PFNA
(17/P104) TRENTON – The Christie Administration is
enhancing protection of the state’s drinking water by moving forward
with stringent standards for two chemicals that are persistent in the
environment and have been linked to various health concerns, Department
of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced during a
news conference today.
New Jersey will become the first state to set formal Maximum
Contaminant Levels (MCLs) requiring statewide testing of public
drinking water systems for perfluorooctoanic acid (PFOA) and
perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).
Christie Administration remains steadfast in its commitment to
protecting our drinking water,” Commissioner Martin said during a news
conference at New Jersey American Water’s headquarters in Voorhees,
Camden County. “Setting protective standards for these contaminants
continues New Jersey’s long tradition of being a national leader in
using strong science to ensure residents receive the highest quality
The DEP has accepted the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality
Institute’s recommended drinking water standard of 14 parts per
trillion for PFOA, Commissioner Martin announced. The DEP has also
formally proposed a standard of 13 parts per trillion for PFNA, also
recommended by the Drinking Water Quality Institute, a panel comprised
of the state’s leading drinking water experts.
PFOA and PFNA belong to a group of chemicals called per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Some PFASs, including PFOA and
PFNA, do not break down readily in the environment and remain in the
body for a long time once absorbed through drinking or eating.
While scientists continue to study the health effects of other types
of PFASs, a growing body of studies suggests PFOA and PFNA may impact
liver and immune system function, increase blood cholesterol levels,
and cause delays in growth and development of fetuses and infants. PFOA
may also increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
“The Drinking Water Quality Institute has worked to develop
recommendations that will protect the citizens of New Jersey from these
contaminants based on the scientific literature, as well as on
detection and treatment strategies that are available,” said Drinking
Water Quality Institute Chairman Dr. Keith Cooper.
Over the years, New Jersey’s water systems have cooperated in
testing for chemicals such as PFOA and PFNA, which are classified as
contaminants of emerging concern but are not regulated by MCLs. The
adoption of formal MCLs will require water companies and utilities to
monitor routinely and take corrective actions, such as installing
treatment systems, if warranted.
2007, New Jersey has implemented an advisory, or guidance, level of 40
parts per trillion for PFOA in drinking water. Twelve public water
systems have detected PFOA at concentrations above that level in recent
years. These systems have taken a variety of actions to address the
contamination, including installing treatment systems, increasing
monitoring and taking wells out of service.
New Jersey American, for example, installed treatment systems at its
Hummocks Station Plant in Union Township, Union County; at its Birch
Creek treatment plant in Logan Township, Gloucester County; and at its
Ranney treatment plant in Penns Grove, Salem County.
“New Jersey American, as the state’s largest investor-owned water
utility, has always taken its responsibilities in providing safe
drinking water to its customers very seriously, and demonstrated this
again in its proactive response to detections of PFOA in limited parts
of its distribution system,” said Michele Putnam, DEP’s Acting
Assistant Commissioner for Water Resources Management.
PFOA was used in a wide variety of consumer products and industrial
applications, including the manufacture of nonstick cookware and food
packaging. It was also used to make upholstered furniture, carpets, and
clothing resistant to soil, stains, and water, as well as to make
shoes, clothes, and mattresses water resistant.
A study conducted by the DEP in 2006 found PFOA present at very low
levels in a majority of the public water systems that were tested. New
Jersey was the first state to conduct such a statewide study and it
resulted in the DEP setting a guidance level for water systems to
New Jersey started looking at PFOA following reports of elevated
levels of the chemical in drinking water sources adjacent to a DuPont
facility in Parkersburg, West Virginia, that used the chemical.
DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency then focused
investigation efforts in Salem County communities adjacent to the
DuPont Chambers Works plant, along the Delaware River in Pennsville.
This expanded into broader statewide DEP investigations of PFOA, PFNA,
and related chemicals in water supplies.
Under the oversight of EPA and DEP, the Chemours Company, DuPont’s
successor, is installing a containment wall to prevent the spread of
contamination of PFOA and other chemicals from groundwater to the
river, augmenting a pump-and-treat system that has been in operation
for many years.
The company has installed Point of Entry Treatment Systems (POETS)
on dozens of impacted off-site private wells in the area. Operators of
affected public municipal wells have also taken steps to protect their
Under the direction of EPA and DEP, Chemours has expanded the
investigation of potentially impacted wells in a radius up to 2 ½ miles
from the plant to determine potential impacts from possible deposition
of PFOA and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances from airborne
The state has an interim-specific ground water quality criterion of
10 parts per trillion in place to guide remediation of wells
contaminated with PFNA. The DEP has also worked closely with
communities in Gloucester and Salem counties that have had to add
treatment systems or switch to deeper and more protected wells because
of contamination. The state, however, does not have a drinking water
guidance level for PFNA.
Like PFOA, PFNA is extremely persistent in the environment. PFNA was
used as a processing aid in the manufacture of high-performance
plastics that are resistant to harsh chemicals and high temperatures.
PFNA above the recommended MCL level has been detected in 11 public
water systems and some private wells in Gloucester and Salem counties
near the Delaware River. Solvay Polymers used PFNA at its West Deptford
facility until 2010. The company is delineating the extent of offsite
Under the direction of DEP, Solvay added a system to treat
contaminated groundwater on its property and paid for installation of a
treatment system at a public supply well in neighboring Paulsboro.
Other municipal wells that have been impacted have been shut down, with
utilities drawing replacement water from deeper, more protected
sources. The DEP has also installed POETS at more than 30 affected
Various types of PFASs, including PFOA, have also been used in foams
used for firefighting and training, particularly in specialized
firefighting foams at airports and military bases. The DEP and Drinking
Water Quality Institute are developing a health-based standard for
perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), another of the chemicals found
frequently in these foams.
DEP is working with EPA, the Department of Defense, and the Federal
Aviation Administration on investigations and remediation activities
related to PFAS contamination from firefighting foams, notably at Joint
Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington and Ocean counties and the
FAA Technical Center in Atlantic County. Contamination resulted largely
from training exercises.
For more information, including health effects information and Drinking Water Quality Institute recommendations, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/g_boards_dwqi.html
For detailed information on the DEP’s Aug. 7 Maximum Contaminant Level rule proposal for PFNA, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/rules/notices/20170807b.html