Water Quality is always a topic of interest. Occasionally, some aspect of water quality or water safety will make the news. These have included stories on chromium, perchlorate, Cryptosporidium, fluoride, arsenic, lead, and other topics.
When you hear a news story about the water supply, we hope you’ll check here for more information.
The content below includes topics recently covered.
RLs for Two Polyfluorinated Compounds (4/3/20)
Health-Related Response Levels Set for Two Fluorinated alkyl Substances (PFAS)
Poly and Per- fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic (man-made) chemicals that are resistant to heat, water, and oil. PFAS have been widely used in consumer and industrial products since the 1950s. Two commonly produced PFAS include Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). The two compounds have been used to make consumer products stain-resistant, water-proof, and non-stick. Some applications include surface coatings for paper, cardboard packaging, carpets, furniture, leather, fire-retarding foams, cookware, paint, and lubricants. PFOA and PFOS, as all PFAS, are very stable, do not degrade in the environment, and can bio-accumulate. Major US manufacturers voluntarily phased out production of PFOS between 2000 and 2002, and subsequently for PFOA in 2006 due to their toxicological potential. However, PFOA and PFOS are still produced internationally and can be imported into the US through consumer products such as carpet, clothing, or packaging.
Studies indicate potential health consequences from exposure to significant levels PFAS. Health effects may include high cholesterol, liver and thyroid cancer risks, immunotoxicity, pregnancy-induced hypertension, low birth weights, and decreased fertility.
On February 6, 2020, based on updated health recommendations from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the California State Water Resources Control Board (DDW) established Response Levels (RLs) for PFOA and PFOS. RLs provide public water systems with recommendations on how to respond if testing indicates a contaminant has reached a threshold which is set above the State established Notification Level (NL). Please see below for water in the distribution system. RLs are based on the potential health consequences of a contaminant. They establish the level at which a water system is advised to remove the drinking water source from service or provide treatment. Effective treatments for PFAS are reverse osmosis and ion exchange. Granular activated carbon treatment has shown effectiveness in lowering PFAS levels as well.
The RLs set for PFOA and PFOS are 10 ppt and 40 ppt, respectively.
If the water system must utilize a water source with a PFOA/PFOS detection above its RL, the system is required to:
- Notify the local governing body (i.e. city council, board of commissioners, etc.).
- Notify affected customers directly and ensure that all potential consumers are also notified.
For more information, please see DDW's Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).
OEHHA is also exploring the development of Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS. A PHG is the level of a contaminant in drinking water that does not pose a significant risk to health and another step in the process of establishing a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for a substance in drinking water in California. Please see OEHHA’s Public Health Goals (PHGs) for more information.
An MCL is the legal threshold limit for a substance allowed in drinking water that may have potential health effects under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Establishing an MCL requires rigorous research on occurrence, laboratory detection methods, treatment techniques, and potential treatment costs. For more information on MCLs, please visit USEPA’s Standards and Regulations.
For more information on the California PHGs and MCLs regulatory process, please see Comparison of MCLs and PHGs for Regulated Contaminants in Drinking Water.
As mentioned above, RLs are set higher than the State established NL. NLs are a non-regulatory, precautionary health-based measure for concentrations of substances in drinking water that warrant notification and further monitoring and assessment. Current NLs for PFOA and PFOS are 5.1 ppt and 6.5 ppt, respectively. For more information please go to DDW's Drinking Water Notification Levels.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency established a Health Advisory Level for the combined presence of PFOA and PFOS at 70 ppt. Health advisories provide information on contaminants in drinking water that can cause human health effects. For more information, please go to USEPA Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS.
LADWP has been testing for PFAS since 2013. The vast majority of samples analyzed have tested below the health advisory and notification levels for PFOA and PFOS. Although PFAS were detected in a few samples from individual wells, no single well represents water provided to our customers. Water from individual wells is blended with water from other wells, and is further diluted by blending with superior volumes of surface water before entering the distribution system. LADWP customers can be confident in their tap water quality.
LADWP routinely tests for over 220 constituents in our water supply by performing more than 124,000 tests on samples taken throughout the City. We are pleased to report that the water we provide to our customers meets or surpasses every federal and state drinking water standard.
Our mission is to provide the highest quality water to our more than 4 million valued customers. We have a well-trained staff of water utility professionals constantly monitoring our water operations and water quality to ensure that every drop we deliver is safe to drink.
For more information, please see PFAS and Drinking Water in Fact Sheets & Brochures and DDW's Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).
If you have questions, please contact Water Quality
A Message from LADWP on the Safety of Your Tap Water (3/6/20)
LADWP continues to closely monitor information on the new coronavirus (COVID-19) through updates shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. There have been reports of people purchasing bottled water as a precautionary measure to ensure ample drinking water supply as part of emergency preparedness. LADWP wants to reassure our customers, the water at their tap continues to be of the highest quality and is 100-percent safe to drink. There is no threat to your public drinking water supply and no need to use bottled water. LADWP’s treatment processes are specifically designed to protect the public from all viruses and harmful bacteria. The use of LADWP water in hand washing is safe as an effective means of removing germs, in combination with the use of soap and proper hand washing measures.
LADWP’s drinking water supply undergoes proven scientific techniques and treatments before they reach our customers’ tap, including filtration, ultraviolet light and chlorine disinfection.
LADWP will continue to closely monitor the progression of COVID-19 and to communicate with other water industry professionals to ensure the continued safety of our treated water supply. For more information on COVID-19, please visit LADWP News and visit CDC’s website or LA County’s Department of Public Health’s website.
"Dark Waters" Movie Generates Interest in Drinking Water Quality Testing and C8 (12/30/19)
The recent film, “Dark Waters,” has generated public interest regarding a particular perfluorinated compound (PFC) called C8 in drinking water sources. While the movie is based on events that occurred in West Virginia, it understandably may raise questions among our customers. As a water utility committed to the protection of public health, LADWP welcomes the opportunity to share information with our customers about LADWP’s commitment to providing Los Angeles with high quality, safe, and reliable drinking water and our testing results for these chemical compounds.
C8 (also known as Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA) is just one of many compounds that fall under the category of PFCs that have been linked to consumer products like cookware, pizza boxes, fire-fighting foam, and stain-resistant, water-proof, or non-stick materials. Human exposure to these compounds is primarily through consumer products, food, indoor and outdoor air, and dust. Potential health impacts related to PFCs are still being studied and more research is needed. Given the potential impact that PFC’s and other contaminants may have on drinking water supplies nationally, LADWP fully supports scientific studies to determine the human toxicological and environmental impacts.
LADWP began testing for PFC’s in its water system and wells beginning in 2013. After performing hundreds of samples and tests, there is not a contamination issue with PFC’s in LADWP’s drinking water supplies. The vast majority of samples have been clear (non-detect) of PFC’s, and the few samples with a detection have been well under the notification limits proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for PFOA and PFAS. Based on this data, LADWP customers should be confident that their tap water is not in any way affected by PFOA like that experienced by West Virginia as depicted in the Dark Waters movie.
LADWP will continue to work closely with USEPA, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to ensure that there is no contamination of LADWP’s drinking water sources and its water distribution system. We will also continue to be vigilant in our sampling and testing.
In addition to these tests, in 2018, LADWP tested for over 200 constituents in our water supply by performing more than 120,000 tests on samples taken throughout the City. We are pleased to report that the water we provide to our customers met or surpassed every federal and state drinking water standard.
Our mission is to provide the highest quality water to our 4 million valued customers and we have the best staff of any utility constantly monitoring our water operations and water quality to ensure that every drop we deliver is safe for our customers to drink.
You can learn more about LA’s drinking water by reading our Annual Drinking Water Quality Report and if you have any questions or concerns about the tap water in your home or business, please contact us.
Notification Levels Established for Two Fluorinated Compounds (10/29/18)
On July 13, 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (SWRCB-DDW) issued health-based drinking water Notification Levels (NLs) for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). PFOA and PFOS are compounds that have been used in consumer products to make materials stain-resistant, water-proof, and non-stick. They are also used on surface coatings for paper, cardboard packaging, carpets, furniture, leather, fire-retarding foams, cookware, and equipment lubricants.
Health consequences for exposure to significant levels of PFOA and PFOS may include liver toxicity, cancer risks, and immunotoxicity. Human exposure to PFOA and PFOS are primarily through consumer products, food, indoor and outdoor air, and dust. There is potential for exposure via ingestion of drinking water, particularly in former PFC manufacturing areas. Major U.S. manufacturers voluntarily phased out production of PFOS between 2000 and 2002, and subsequently for PFOA in 2006 due to toxicological concerns.
LADWP tested for PFOA, PFOS, and other PFC’s in its source water and distribution system in 2013-2014, well after phased out production of these compounds as part of USEPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3.
During this study, over 38 samples were collected from 11 different monitoring locations. Results for all samples were below laboratory detection levels utilizing advanced USEPA certified test methods for these compounds and well below the NLs for PFOA and PFOS. In the future, LADWP will continue monitoring for PFOA, PFOS, and other PFC’s, including additional testing of local groundwater sources.
The Notification Level issued is a health-based advisory level, not a regulatory level, established by SWRCB-DDW for chemicals that may present health risks but have yet to go through a Health Hazard Assessment, which is part of the process required to formally adopt a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), and includes rigorous research and data analysis. The NLs for PFOA and PFOS have been set at 14 parts per trillion (ppt) and 13 ppt, respectively. A ppt is equivalent to one ounce in 7.5 billion gallons of water. A NL requires a public water supplier to notify SWRCB-DDW and its governing bodies if drinking water tests exceed the level and recommends customer notification.
LADWP has a comprehensive Water Quality Monitoring Plan to help ensure the safety of our water supply. Our water meets or exceeds all State and Federal drinking water standards established by the SWRCB-DDW and the USEPA.
SWRCB-DDW has results of statewide testing for PFOA and PFOS on its website: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/PFOA_PFOS.html
Additional Reference Websites:
PFAS in Drinking Water Frequently Asked Questions
Poly and Per- fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of thousands of different synthetic (human made) chemicals developed in the 1940s for use in the manufacture of a variety of goods like carpeting, packaging (including food packaging), non-stick cookware, paints, personal care products, and fire-retardant. PFAS are designed to make products more resistant to water, oil, stains, and heat. They have raised health and environmental concerns, and have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because they are difficult to break down.
There are thousands of PFAS, including six that have been regulated, or are being considered for regulation, on the federal and state level: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) aka GenX.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), PFAS can accumulate over time in a person’s body. Studies indicate potential health consequences from exposure to significant levels of PFAS. Health effects may include high cholesterol, liver and thyroid cancer, immunotoxicity, pregnancy-induced hypertension, low birth weights, and decreased fertility. Additional information about PFAS can be found on the EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/pfas.
PFAS can be present in food and beverages due to environmental contamination, processing equipment, and packaging. PFAS have been used to create consumer products that are non-stick, stain-repellant, or water-repellant. In circumstances where drinking water is contaminated with PFAS, it is typically due to source contamination from manufacturing, waste disposal facilities, or the use of fire-fighting foams.
LADWP has been monitoring and testing for PFAS in its water sources and distribution system in accordance with federal and state guidance and industry standards. Our testing program reflects our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of water quality and safety for our customers. As we do with other potential contaminants, LADWP will test for and monitor PFAS while working with regulatory agencies to safeguard water quality. This includes coordinating with the California Division of Drinking Water (DDW) to monitor the City’s groundwater wells. LADWP also actively engages with peer utilities and leading researchers to stay at the forefront of effective PFAS treatment methods in drinking water and be prepared to respond effectively should the need ever arise in the future.
At the regulatory level, two PFAS compounds (PFOA and PFOS) have already been phased out of production in the United States, but consumer products fabricated using them are still imported from abroad. A comprehensive approach to mitigate harmful PFAS effects is being developed by the EPA, which includes proposed drinking water federal Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). The proposed regulation would include specific monitoring, public notification, and treatment requirements for PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO, among others.
In California, PFAS Notification Levels (NLs) and Response Levels (RLs) have been established, which describe actions that are taken when those levels are reached or exceeded. It is anticipated that state MCLs will be established by California after Public Health Goals (PHGs) are finalized. California PFAS regulatory limits may be the same or more stringent than federal requirements.