Read the full article by Beth Burger (The Columbus Dispatch)

“Nearly 250 Ohio schools and daycares with their own water supply systems are the first public systems being tested by the state for PFAS, or so-called forever chemicals.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has begun testing 90% of the state’s public water systems for the family of thousands of man-made chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Once consumed, the chemicals negatively affect the immune system and development in infants and children, increase the risk of cancer, reduce fertility in women, interfere with hormones and increase cholesterol levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate these chemicals. Last week, the agency issued preliminary determinations to regulate PFOA and PFOS chemicals.

No limits have been set, although the agency has had an advisory guideline of 70 parts per trillion that Ohio is using as it moves forward with testing.

The state is using EPA toxicity benchmarks for four other PFAS chemicals to set limits. Certain chemicals in the PFAS family, like GenX, which is a replacement for PFOA, has a limit of 700 parts per trillion.

‘Ohio EPA will take confirmation samples for any result (from initial testing) above 50% of an action level,’ said Heidi Griesmer, deputy communications director for the Ohio EPA. ‘Finished water detections above an action level will trigger at least one year of monthly finished water monitoring.’

In addition, she said, ‘Ohio EPA and the public water system will begin to implement short- and long-term actions to reduce PFAS levels.’

The U.S. EPA will soon begin seeking comments on proposed PFAS regulations as soon as a notice is published in the Federal Register.

‘The agency will review and consider comments received on this action and cannot predetermine the outcome of the next steps’ in the process, according to a federal EPA spokesman.

Daycare and school water systems are in 60% of Ohio’s counties, records show, and testing should take another month or so. Testing the rest of the public water systems in the state will likely go through the end of the year, Griesmer said.

Counties with school water systems serving the largest populations that are getting tested includeClark, Geauga, Licking, Madison, Portage, Richland, Stark and Summit.

More than 100,000 people use the water systems at the school and daycare sites, according to state data.

The state testing comes as part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s action plan to assess Ohio’s drinking water for PFAS.

A bill has been introduced in the Ohio legislature that would require the Ohio EPA to set a maximum contaminant level for the chemicals.

‘The states need to continue passing their own limits and not wait for the U.S. EPA to act,’ said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group…”