Read the full article by Martin Wisckol (Orange County Register)

“A year-and-a-half after Orange County began shutting down groundwater wells because of PFAS contamination, the first treatment plant to remove the carcinogens is up and operating in Fullerton, with two dozen more to be built throughout the north and central parts of the county.

Miniscule quantities of PFAS, a family of chemicals used for waterproofing and stain-proofing among other uses, have been found to be toxic, with much of Orange County’s contamination believed to have come from treated wastewater in the Inland Empire that was released into the Santa Ana River before settling into the county’s groundwater aquifer. Other business may also have released contaminants into the watershed.

Construction of the Fullerton plant began in November, with operations launching Thursday, June 30. The Fullerton plant and 24 others to be built over the next two years will allow the 11 affected water districts to cut back on the imported water that has supplanted flows from shut-down wells.

‘It means Fullerton can increase its use of local groundwater, which is less expensive and more reliable than imported water,’ said Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker, who also sits on the Orange County Water District board of directors.

The family of chemicals known as PFAS, formally known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, includes the compounds PFOA and PFOS. Both have been linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer, liver and kidney damage, and ulcerative colitis. While the focus until now has been primarily on PFOA and PFOS, water officials expect that the state Division of Drinking Water will soon add seven additional PFAS compounds to the list.

Since February, when the acceptable health standard was last upgraded, the state has required well closure, treatment or customer notification if the water had 10 parts per trillion for PFOA and 40 parts per trillion for PFOS. One part per trillion is about the same as four grains of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool…”