EPA Health Advisory Levels


Hartselle Utilities purchases all of its water from Decatur Utilities.  The following notice was recently received from Decatur Utilities:

Decatur Utilities (DU) Evaluating New PFOA, PFOS Health Advisory Levels

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently issued an updated health advisory lowering the levels for LIFETIME exposure to PFOS and PFOA in drinking water. The new advisory levels are well below what were previously non-detectable levels. This is an advisory only and is not a regulation or law. Due to the newly announced advisory levels, recent testing of Decatur Utilities drinking water shows results that are above the EPA’s new 2022 advisory levels for PFOS and PFOA, but below those added for GenX Chemicals and PFBS.

While customers need to be aware of this change to the health advisory, Decatur Utilities drinking water has been and continues to be safe to drink and for use in bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc. Both the 2016 and 2022 advisory limits are based on a lifetime of daily consumption.

The EPA issued the updated health advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS on an interim basis until the release of permanent regulatory requirements for these two contaminants. The health advisories will, in part, inform their decision-making on setting future enforceable limits.

EPA acknowledged that current testing technology cannot detect the presence of PFOA or PFOS at the levels in the new 2022 advisory. Test data for DU’s drinking water is based on current technology capabilities at third-party independent laboratories.


Chemical 2016 Advisory 2022 Advisory January 2022 April 2022*
PFOA 70 ppt (combined) .004 ppt 2.0 9.3
PFOS 70 ppt (combined) .02 ppt 2.07 8.25
GenX NA 10 ppt Non-Detect Non-Detect
PFBS NA 2,000 ppt 2.99 3.87
  • April testing was conducted after a heavy rain event which resulted in additional turbidity, runoff from farmland, etc.
  • For reference, one part per trillion (ppt) is the equivalent of one square inch in 250 square miles OR one second in nearly 32,000 years OR one ounce in 7.5 billion gallons of water.

Decatur Utilities will continue to test for these contaminants on a quarterly basis using the best available analytical technology.  Decatur Utilities is looking at the new advisory and what future regulations could mean for the utility. DU will be evaluating the new advisory levels, ongoing test results, and any steps that will need to be taken to come into compliance once EPA sets Maximum Contaminant Levels for PFOA and PFOS under upcoming National Primary Drinking Water regulations.   At that time, DU will explore grants and other funding options to minimize the impact these regulations could have on customer rates.

These new health advisories are affecting not only Decatur Utilities, Hartselle Utilities, North East Water Authority and most every water system in Alabama and the country. A full listing of systems in Alabama that have detections can be found on ADEM’s website at the following address: ADEM State-Wide PFAS sampling report – http://adem.alabama.gov/programs/water/drinkingwater/files/2022AllResultsMRL.pdf

PFAS Background:

PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, are synthetic chemicals that have been manufactured and used by a broad range of industries since the 1940s. PFAS are used in many applications because of their unique physical properties such as resistance to high and low temperatures, resistance to degradation, and nonstick characteristics. PFAS have been detected worldwide in the air, soil, and water. Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS.

Source: www.epa.gov

For Additional Information:

EPA Fact Sheet for Communities – https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2022-06/drinking-water-ha-pfasfactsheet-communities.pdf

American Water Works Association Statement on PFAS – https://www.awwa.org/AWWA-Articles/awwa-statement-onepa-pfas-health-advisories