Emerging Contaminants of Concern- PFAS

What is an Emerging Contaminant of Concern?

They are contaminants introduced into water sources by way of agricultural runoff, personal care pollutants, and industrial waste.

“Emerging contaminants” are discharged into the water shed by manufacturing plants and by way of agricultural runoff and include industrial chemicals like PFAS, 1,4 – Dioxane,  food additives, metals, pharmaceuticals, and natural & synthetic hormones. Contaminants of Emerging Concern have the ability to enter the water cycle after being discharged as waste through the process of runoff making its way into rivers, directly through effluent discharge, or by the process of seepage and infiltration into the water table, eventually entering the public water supply system. Emerging Contaminants are known to cause endocrine disrupting activity and other toxic mechanisms, some are recognized as known carcinogens by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is considered an emerging contaminant of concern and is a group of man-made chemicals that include PFOA & PFOS. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. PFAS was used widely in a variety of applications such as non-stick cookware, stain resistant carpets and furniture, waterproof  clothing, fire-fighting foam, food packaging (i.e. microwave popcorn bags), wire coatings,

In February 2016, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) discovered a contamination problem in Bennington, VT PFAS from a former Teflon coating factory. DEC discovered that over 300 drinking water wells in the Bennington area were contaminated with perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA).

Since the discovery in Bennington, the DEC has investigated numerous sources of PFAS at sites throughout VT using a strategic sampling strategy. The sampling sites include: wire coating facilities, semi-conductor facilities, battery manufacturers, fire-fighting foam, landfill leachate, groundwater at landfills, surface water, public drinking water supplies, wastewater treatment plants and tanneries. For more information on DEC’s sampling report, click on the link below:

PFAS Sampling Report 7.10.18 FINAL