What NJ is doing about toxic chemicals showing up in drinking water
There’s good news if you drink water.
New Jersey environmental officials are proposing stricter maximum contaminant limits for two chemicals believed to cause cancer and other health issues than any other state in the nation.
The chemicals are known as PFNA and 1,2,3 TCP.
PFNA is short for perfluorononanoic acid, and TCP is trichloropropane.
“These are chemicals that have turned up sporadically in some of our water supplies in the state,” said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
He explained the DEP proposal would formalize a standard “that would be part of a battery of tests that our water companies routinely do to monitor for chemical contamination.”
Hajna said under the proposed rules, if PFNA or 1,2,3 TCP shows up in the water, “the utilities would be required to do additional monitoring and if it proves to be a persistent issue, they’ll be required to take steps to address.”
He said PFNA is part of a class of chemicals once widely used in food packaging and stain repellents.
“We’re seeing this turn up in wells in the Gloucester County and Salem County areas in a limited number of wells along the Delaware River.”
He added 1,2.3 TCP was used as a fumigant to treat soil in farming areas for fungus.
“It was also used in some cleaning and de-greasing agents. We found it in a couple of municipal supplies in Burlington County and the chemical has also turned up in monitoring wells at former toxic waste sites.”
Hajna explained an ongoing EPA program has been monitoring for chemicals that may turn up in water supplies that are considered to be of emerging concern.
“This database that the EPA maintains is helping us develop standards that can be applied to our drinking water supplies,” he said.
He noted the DEP works very closely with the Drinking Water Quality Institute, which helps to develop safe standards for exposure to toxic chemicals.
Hajna said the proposed lifetime maximum contaminant limit for PFNA is 13 parts per trillion, and for 1,2,3 TCP it’s 30 parts per trillion.
“New Jersey has a long track record of setting drinking water standards that are in many cases tougher than what’s required by the federal government.”
He added, “We’re cognizant of our industrial past and it’s very important to us that we be proactive in ensuring the quality of our drinking water supplies. Our water systems perform tens of thousands of tests each year and our drinking water is extremely regulated, and that’s a good thing for the people of New Jersey.”
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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com