The Vermont Department of Health is adding three new polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to its drinking water advisory, and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation says it will be testing the drinking water in 10 schools that have used cleaning supplies that contain the chemicals.
The state will test the water this week at:
- Warren Elementary School
- Lamoille Union USD 18
- Brookfield Elementary
- Smilie Memorial Elementary School
- Sharon Elementary School
- Grafton Elementary School
- Charleston Elementary School
- Marlboro Elementary School
- Ripton Elementary School
- Eden Central School
The Health Department set its first drinking water health advisory in 2016 after PFOA was discovered in Bennington and Pownal, and that advisory was expanded to also include PFOS, a chemical used in firefighting foam.
On Tuesday, the Health Department said it added the chemicals PFHxS, PFHpA and PFNA to the list.
The Health Department at this point has kept its drinking water safety level at 20 parts per trillion for all of the chemicals, and for any combination of any of them.
The chemicals that were added to the state's list can be removed with a carbon filtration system.
The Department has been expanding its water testing, and the most recent tests near the Rutland Regional Airport in Clarendon are wrapping up.
The state says as it’s been testing more sites, the three new chemicals have been showing up “at levels that triggered the Health Department to expand its health advisory,” according to a press release issued Tuesday.
According to the release, any location that has PFAS above the health advisory level has been contacted.
PFAS are used in floor cleaning products, stripping chemicals, waxes and polish, and the Department of Environmental Conservation says it will be testing the drinking water at the 10 schools because they have their own on-site wells.
State officials say the chemicals could have been released into the environment after the cleaning supplies were dumped on the ground or into the septic system.
“Schools that are on a public drinking water system are not affected,” the release stated.
DEC is working with the Health Department and with the Agency of Education on the water testing.
According to the Vermont Health Department, the likelihood of having a health effect due to PFAS exposure depends on how much an individual was exposed to and for how long.
Update 1:56 p.m. This post was updated to include additional information from the state's press release.