‘Astronomical’ Levels of PFAS Chemicals Discharged into Drinking Water Sources from Two Bay Area Facilities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 8, 2023
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Oakland, California–Today, nonprofit watchdog the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) sent legal notices to two Bay Area metal-plating facilities today after discovering that these companies discharged toxic PFAS chemicals, also called “forever chemicals,” including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), into known sources of drinking water. CEH’s investigation found that the levels of PFOS in groundwater below these facilities exceeded the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national proposed limits for PFOA and PFOS by more than a hundred times.
The two metal-plating companies, Electro-Coatings of California and Teikuro Corporation, both historically used a PFOS-based fume suppressant in their day-to-day operations. PFOS and PFOA are two most well-studied chemicals and are associated with the development of cancers, diseases in multiple organ systems, and immune deficiencies. Even exposure at very low levels can increase the chance of adverse health outcomes in people.
In recognition of the toxicity of these chemicals, their environmental persistence, and ability to accumulate in the human body, the U.S. EPA recently announced enforceable limits on six PFAS chemicals in drinking water, including PFOA and PFOS and set levels low (4 parts per trillion).
“We’re facing a crisis of PFAS contamination in drinking water from decades of careless and unregulated industrial releases. There is no safe level of exposure to these chemicals and drinking contaminated water is a major pathway of exposure for people. Our research is uncovering important sources of PFAS pollution, but we need more monitoring and enforcement to tackle this massive problem,” said Dr. Jimena Diaz Leiva, Science Director at CEH.
“Our research found PFAS chemicals more than 100 times above the safe limit as determined by the EPA. These chemicals pollute our bodies, the water we drink and many of the places we love. The responsible facilities must immediately stop discharging these insidious chemicals into our environment and take rapid steps to clean up their mess,” said Karina Gomez, Community Engagement Manager at CEH.
“The California Water Board and other state agencies are failing to protect communities that are being polluted by these chemicals and CEH is stepping in to do that work,” said Regina Jackson, Interim CEO.
CEH sent a legal notice to Recology, a waste facility in Vacaville, for illegal discharges of the same PFAS chemicals in March.
Under Proposition 65, California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, facilities cannot discharge hazardous chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive harm, into known sources of drinking water. CEH seeks to require these facilities to eliminate the source of PFOA and PFOS releases and clean up their operations. Given the ubiquity of PFAS in the environment, identifying these industrial sources of PFAS pollution will begin the long process of remediation and clean-up.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a 27-year-old organization leading the nationwide effort to protect people from toxic chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, government, and the private sector to demand and support business practices that are safe for public health and the environment.