Frequently Asked Questions

What are PFCs?

Perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, are a diverse group of compounds resistant to heat, water and oil. For decades, they have been used in hundreds of industrial applications and consumer products such as carpeting, clothing, upholstery, food paper wrappings, fire-fighting foams and metal plating. 

PFCs have been found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood samples of the general U.S. population.

Learn more from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) online.

Is DuPont’s water safe to drink?

Yes. DuPont meets all standards set for safe drinking water. 

To view results click here

What if I have health concerns?

If you are concerned about potential health effects from exposure to PFCs, contact your doctor or health care professional.

Do I receive water from wells?  

Yes, view our 2019 Water Quality Report

What are the experts hired by the City studying?

Gray and Osborne, our City Engineer Consultant experts in water systems, are studying:

•    The complex hydrogeology of our area

•    The relationship between the City’s wells

•    DuPont’s water system operations

•    Potential next steps for the long term

What might be the source of the PFCs?

The City is studying the possible sources of the PFC contamination.

Has the City tested its other wells?

Yes – all of DuPont’s wells have tested below EPA’s detection threshold for PFCs.

Why take action now?

The City started testing for PFCs in 2014 as part of a nationwide program to help the EPA determine if new regulatory standards are needed for contaminants that are not yet regulated.

While an initial positive test was detected in 2014, it was assumed to be due to a 200 foot testing tube at the Hoffman Hill Water Facilities. There were no detections at the Bell Hill Water Facilities in 2014.  

The City was participating with Joint Base Lewis McChord for testing at the Hoffman Hill Wells in December 2018.  The 200 foot testing tube has been replace will all metal piping.  Initial results were inconclusive as the Quality Control Sample that was supposed to be clean, showed detection.  The City began testing in April, June, August, and October of 2019 to create background test data.  

DuPont meets all standards set for safe drinking water, and no formal regulatory actions have been required by EPA or the Department of Health (DOH). 

What’s the difference between regulated and unregulated substances?

Drinking water standards are regulations that EPA sets to control the level of contaminants in the nation’s drinking water. The regulations also require water monitoring schedules and methods to measure contaminants in water.

The EPA also conducts a separate program to collect data from drinking water systems across the U.S. on possible contaminants that are not yet regulated. These tests provide the EPA with data on the occurrence of contaminants suspected to be in drinking water, in order to determine if new regulatory standards are needed to protect public health. 

In addition, based on the latest science, the EPA recently released drinking water health advisories (which are not enforceable or regulated) on two PFCs, called Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). 

The Washington State Department of Ecology is also about to embark on a study of — and action for — PFCs in the state.

What levels of PFOS and PFOA are safe for humans?

The EPA has established a Health Advisory Level for PFOS and PFOA of 70 parts per trillion, designed to protect even the most sensitive populations over a lifetime of exposure.  A part per trillion is equivalent to one grain of sugar in an Olympic size swimming pool.  PFAS are not currently regulated, meaning there isn’t a rule that requires treatment if readings are above a particular level, but Washington Department of Health is considering implementing a regulation that would require treatment.  We are being proactive in protecting water quality for our customers and are not waiting for a rule to be implemented.

PFOA Results for City Wells (PDF)PFOA Graph Jan 2020

PFOS Results for City Wells (PDF)

PFOS Graph Jan 2020