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“State environmental regulators are not recommending additional filtration or any other precautionary steps for airport-area home owners whose well water has tested positive for the industrial chemicals PFOS and PFOA.
Recent chemical sampling of 42 residential wells in the Lake Brandt watershed found nine with identifiable levels of the two, synthetic compounds. But all readings were below voluntary health limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Working in partnership with Guilford County Public Health officials, the state Department of Environmental Quality took samples from the wells last month and recently sent letters to homeowners disclosing their individual results.
‘None of the wells tested exceeded the federal health advisory level for PFOA or PFOS, so no alternate water needs were recommended,’ said Laura Leonard, spokeswoman for DEQ’s division of waste management that participated in the study.
Leonard noted that EPA’s health advisory is 70 parts per trillion for the two compounds, either together or alone.
The three highest readings in residential wells were 30.6, 41 and 48 ppt for PFOS and PFOA combined, Guilford environmental health manager Joe Johnson said recently. The highest readings were found in neighborhoods near Piedmont Triad International Airport, in the area where Bryan Boulevard crosses Horse Pen Creek.
Leonard said that along with the test results, all owners of the tested wells received ‘health risk evaluations’ from the state agency based on the PFOS and PFOA levels shown in their results.
‘The HRE clearly outlines when alternate water is needed, and it was not recommended for any well owner in this case,’ Leonard said Friday.
She said the only difference between the letters sent to the nine well owners with positive PFOS/PFOA findings and the others was an alert that officials would like to do ‘follow up sampling of their wells’ later this year.
PFOS and PFOA are members of the perfluorinated class of chemicals used for decades in a variety of consumer and industrial products. They are synthetic chemicals that persist for years both in nature and in the human body once ingested.
Domestic chemical manufacturers began voluntarily phasing them out years ago after scientists became alarmed that small amounts of these artificial substances could be found in the bloodstreams of most human beings.
The issue came to light locally several years ago when Greensboro officials discovered worrisome levels of PFOS in the Lake Brandt reservoir that is fed by Horse Pen Creek and other streams originating in the airport area. Eventually they determined that much of the contamination came from PFOS in firefighting foams heavily used at PTI and in the industrial area around it.
Greensboro installed leased water-treatment equipment last year at the Mitchell Water Treatment Plant to knock back levels of PFOS and PFOA when they occasionally spike above the EPA advisory.
The city has been testing weekly for the two chemicals both in ‘raw’ water from Lake Brandt and in treated water from the Mitchell plant since last summer, when lab results showed PFOS and PFOA well above the EPA health advisory in samples from the lake and after treatment at the plant.
The city’s most recent test results for treated water drawn Jan. 22 from the Mitchell plant showed PFOS at 19 ppt and PFOA at 3.1 ppt, for a combined total of 22.1 ppt.
The last time tests showed water from the Mitchell plant exceeding the EPA advisory was Aug. 7 when it registered 100 ppt for the two compounds combined. PFOS made up the majority at 88 ppt…”