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Iowa DNR Completes PFAS Analysis of Cedar Rapids Water

Iowa DNR Completes PFAS Analysis of Cedar Rapids Water

March 14, 2022

Iowa DNR Completes PFAS Analysis of Cedar Rapids Water

In February 2022, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) sampled Cedar Rapids’ drinking water as part of the State's action plan for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which includes 25 different compounds. PFAS is a class of chemicals manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFAS compounds have been used in carpets; clothing; furniture fabric; paper packaging for food and other materials that are resistant to water, grease or stains; and fire-fighting foams. While consumer products are a large source of exposure to these chemicals for most people, drinking water can be an additional source in small percentages where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects and can accumulate over time in humans, animals, and the environment.

Of the 25 different compounds tested in the PFAS group, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only set a Health Advisory Level for two compounds, PFOA (Perfluorooctanioic Acid) and PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid). The Advisory Level for these two compounds is currently set at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). To put that in perspective, one ppt is equivalent to approximately two drops of liquid in a pumpage of 36 million gallons per day, or the span of one second within 32,000 years.

The Iowa DNR testing results for February in Cedar Rapids show that PFOA was not detected in the finished potable water. PFOS was found in one Cedar Rapids well at 4.7 ppt — well below the current advisory level. A combination of wells are running at all times, feeding the treatment process, so the effects of one specific well are always diluted. As a result, no PFOS or PFOA were found in sampling of the water leaving the plant. Only one of the 25 PFAS compounds was detected in the finished water leaving the plant. Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) was detected in trace amounts at 2.3 ppt. There is no current health advisory set by the EPA for the PFBA compound.

The Iowa DNR met with the City of Cedar Rapids to review these results and characterized both detections as “very low,” and they categorized the PFBA detection as “consistent or ubiquitous with what we are finding around the state.” The EPA Health Advisory Level includes an added margin of safety that protects populations which may be most vulnerable to PFAS. Water quality specialists with the Cedar Rapids Water Division (CRWD) continue to follow the emerging science on PFAS compounds. According to the current data and scientific evidence, there is no indication Cedar Rapids Water customers need to take any special actions at this time. Cedar Rapids water remains safe to drink.

“At the City of Cedar Rapids, we take water and water quality very seriously. Our drinking water is safe and is well within the EPA and DNR standards,” said Water Plant Manager Christine Knapp. “We will continue to work with the Iowa DNR to monitor PFAS and will keep providing our community with safe, high quality drinking water.”

The City of Cedar Rapids will conduct regular testing of finished potable water, with the Iowa DNR monitoring quarterly, over the course of the next year. Results of the DNR’s sampling will be released on the Iowa DNR website. Learn more about PFAS on the EPA website.

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