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The NJBIA has submitted comments on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s rule proposal concerning perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). These substances had been used for years in products such as Teflon, firefighting foam, and food packaging. The proposal was based on the recommendations of the Department’s Drinking Water Quality Institute.

The proposal does several things. One, it sets maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for drinking water for PFOA at 14 parts per trillion and at 13 parts per trillion for PFOS. These MCLs are among the lowest in the nation and significantly lower than the combined contaminant level of 70 ppt set as only a health advisory, not a mandatory MCL, by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Given the fact that both the NJDEP and the EPA use the same risk methodologies, have access to the same scientific studies, and have been communicating on this issue for several years, the NJBIA questioned why the numbers differed so widely and asked for the NJDEP to explain the variance.

The rule proposal also set a ground water quality standard at the same levels as the MCLs. A ground water quality standard will drive the level of any site remediation cleanup and will also limit what can be discharged into groundwater from a wastewater treatment plant. NJBIA raised concerns over site remediation remedies seeking a cleanup beyond these numbers and asked the NJDEP to recognize that the only exposure to any PFOA/PFOS contaminants from groundwater would be from drinking water, which would already be treated to meet standards.

NJBIA also pointed out it would be impossible for a wastewater treatment plant discharging to groundwater to meet these standards with any known technologies. For that reason we urged the NJDEP not to adopt this part of the rule.

Finally, we objected to the proposed requirement that homeowners test for PFOA and PFOS when they sell their homes under the Private Well Testing Act. NJBIA was concerned that this would add another $300 to $500 onto existing testing costs (roughly $700) and due to a shortage of laboratory facilities could delay real estate closings by two to three weeks. Finally, we pointed out that testing for PFOA and PFOS in residential dwellings is often inaccurate and would lead to many false positives and an unnecessary expenditures of money and a disruption of the real estate market. For these reasons we requested that this requirement should not be adopted at this time.

Please click here to read our comments.

Energy & Environmental Quality News

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