Per- and Polyfluoroakyl Substances (PFAS)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of man-made chemicals used in a variety of everyday materials. PFAS compounds repel oil, water, grease, and stains, resist temperature extremes, and reduce friction.PFAS can be found in air, water, and soil. They are very stable and can stay in people’s bodies and the environment for a long time. Most people in the United States have one or more PFAS compounds in their blood. Concerns about the health effects of PFAS grew after PFAS was discovered in drinking water in the United States, particularly in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. Available data show that PFAS exposure is a human health hazard.

While Utah has never produced PFAS compounds, many industries in the state likely use PFAS in their manufacturing processes. Military installations and airports in the states have likely used firefighting foam that contains PFAS. Drinking water samples collected at Utah public water systems from 2013-2015 under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) did not measure any PFAS above 70 parts per trillion (ppt), but EPA and other states are looking at testing for PFAS with more refined analytical techniques capable of detecting PFAS at lower concentrations.

In October 2018, DEQ assembled a workgroup to develop a monitoring reconnaissance plan for PFAS in the State of Utah. This workgroup will develop an ongoing monitoring and reporting strategy to determine if PFAS contaminants can be found in Utah’s groundwater, drinking water, surface water, or soils. Although the current information doesn’t indicate that widespread PFAS contamination is likely in the state, DEQ intends to be proactive in assessing the possibility of PFAS contamination and taking appropriate actions if necessary.

Common sources of PFAS

  • Nonstick cookware
  • Stain-resistant carpets
  • Grease-resistant food packaging
  • Some fire-fighting foams
  • Industrial processes

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