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OHA, DEQ to monitor 150 drinking water systems, 6 in C. Oregon, for PFAS chemicals

Oregon DEQ

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said Tuesday they are teaming up on a project to monitor small public drinking water systems throughout the state, including six in Central Oregon, for the presence of PFAS – a group of chemicals that are becoming a nationwide health concern.

Beginning this month, the two agencies will analyze water samples from about 150 public drinking water systems that each serve fewer than 10,000 people and check for evidence of PFAS contamination. The systems were identified as potentially at risk because of their proximity to a known or suspected PFAS use or contamination site.

The list includes a half-dozen Central Oregon water systems, including the cities of Prineville and Madras, Black Butte Ranch and Roats Water in Deschutes County and Cascade Pines Mobile Home Park and the McDougal Water System in Crook County

The purpose of the monitoring project is to make sure customers are not being exposed to potentially harmful PFAS chemicals in their water.

OHA will share results with the water systems and provide technical assistance if PFAS are detected. OHA has established a health advisory level for four PFAS compounds at 30 parts per trillion.

Larger systems – those with 10,000 customers or more – were tested between 2013 and 2015, officials said, and none had any detections.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS, are a group of thousands of different chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of commercial products since the 1940s – from everyday household items to firefighting foam – due to their heat, moisture and stain resistance, and non-stick qualities.

These chemicals do not break down in the environment or human body and can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to certain PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

For more information about the water monitoring project, visit the OHA website. For a list of the water systems selected for monitoring, click here.

About Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality protects human health and the environment by controlling air and water pollution, reducing the impacts of manufactured products and cleaning up contaminated properties. DEQ engages the public in decision-making and helps communities solve problems in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

About Oregon Health Authority
Oregon Health Authority’s mission is ensuring all people and communities can achieve optimum physical, mental, and social well-being through partnerships, prevention, and access to quality, affordable health care. OHA includes most of the state's health programs, including Public Health, the Oregon Health Plan and Oregon State Hospital. Because poor health is only partially due to lack of medical care, OHA also works to reduce health disparities and to broaden the state's focus on prevention.

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