PRESS RELEASE

Toxic PFAS Taints Delray And Boynton Beach 

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For Immediate Release:  Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Contact:  Jerry Phillips 855-877-8097; Kirsten Stade kstade@peer.org

Toxic PFAS Taints DelRay AND Boynton Beach

Florida Needs to Develop Monitoring Program and Safety Standards

Tallahassee: Reclaimed water and sludge from the South Central Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant that serves the cities of Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, Florida, have high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to testing done for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

PFAS are a family of chemicals with direct links to cancers, motor disorders in children, obesity, endocrine disruption, and liver and thyroid diseases. The CDC recognizes that exposure to PFAS may impact the immune system and reduce antibody responses to vaccines. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the human body and the environment.

PEER had a sample of sludge and reclaimed water tested by the Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Environmental in Lancaster, PA. The sludge was found to have 52,300 parts per trillion (ppt) of 13 different PFAS.  The reclaimed water was found to have 85.3 parts per trillion of 12 different types of PFAS. These results represent an overall small sampling of the total estimated numbers of PFAS/PFOA chemicals known to have been produced in the United States, a number that exceeds 5,000. It is unknown whether sampling for other chemicals would have yielded positive results in this case.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s unenforceable Lifetime Health Advisory is 70 parts per trillion for drinking water for two PFAS chemicals (PFOS and PFOA). A recent study from Harvard University researchers has suggested that a safe limit for PFOA in drinking water is .1 part per trillion.  While EPA has not set a drinking water limit for PFAS, many states have stepped in to set their own standards.

“This stuff is dangerous at shockingly low levels,” said PEER’s Florida Director Jerry Phillips. “It’s not proven safe at any level. This is a wake-up call for Florida to start a comprehensive testing and monitoring program and to develop health-based safety standards for PFAS.”

According to startling revelations in the Coastal Star, Delray’s reclaimed water program has come under serious criticism because residents have gotten sick when partially treated wastewater, known as reclaimed water, found its way into drinking water. The treated sewage sludge produced by the South Central Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant is typically combined with sludge from 16 of the wastewater facilities in the area and then sold as fertilizer in a form referred to as biosolids. PFAS in fertilizer raises public health concerns because the toxic substances –

  • Migrate to both groundwater and surface waters, some of which are sources of drinking water. After a single biosolids application, PFAS can be detected in groundwater months later;
  • Accumulate in crops used for consumption by both livestock and humans; and
  • Risk exposing workers and consumers handling PFAS-laden fertilizers.

“These biosolids are another open pathway for dangerous PFAS penetration of our water supply and food chain,” stated PEER Florida Director Jerry Phillips. “Having PFAS in reclaimed water that is used to water lawns and golf courses is very alarming because that water eventually makes its way to Florida’s groundwater and potable water supply. Having PFAS in biosolids that are used for fertilizer is likewise very alarming.”

 

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Read the PFAS Test Results 

Read the Florida PFAS Fact Sheet

Read the Coastal Star article

Read the New Data on PFOA Safety Threshold for Drinking Water 
 
Read the Latest Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class 

Read the Centers for Disease Control Statement on Potential Intersection Between PFAS Exposure and COVID-19