PFAS and Drinking Water

What are PFAS?

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are long-lasting human-made chemicals that have been found in water, air, and soil in the United States and around the world. Thousands of PFAS chemicals are used for decades in many different types of products. Often used to repel water, grease, and oil, they can be found in products such as firefighting foams, non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, and stain-resistant carpets. They are known as “forever chemicals” or “persistent chemicals” because they break down very slowly, making them a unique water quality concern.

PFAS can enter water in many ways, including discharges to rivers, lakes, and groundwater from manufacturing and processing facilities, as well as during industrial and commercial use. Contamination can also occur in proximity to military bases, airports, and other areas where PFAS have been heavily used.

Health Effects

Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.   Exposure to these chemicals occurs by consuming PFAS-contaminated food or water, breathing air containing PFAS, or using products with PFAS.

Monitoring

Forest Grove’s drinking water sources are low risk for PFAS contamination. 

During a 12-month period in 2013-14, Forest Grove tested for PFAS as part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Unregulated Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR3).  No PFAS compounds were found in the City’s drinking water.

Currently, Forest Grove along with water providers nationwide, are taking part in an expanded PFAS monitoring program as part of the EPA’s UCMR5.  Testing began in July 2023, and samples are taken quarterly, ending in April 2024.  Results from current UCMR5 monitoring can be found below:

  • July 2023 sampling:  No PFAS compounds detected
  • October 2023 sampling:  No PFAS compounds detected
  • January 2024 sampling:  No PFAS compounds detected
  • April 2024 sampling:  TBD

Water providers monitor your drinking water for PFAS and use the latest research to learn more about their effect on public health. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to assess the risks and provide water providers with the tools to address PFAS in their water system. The regulatory environment is changing quickly to catch up to recent scientific discoveries.