The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute has issued a 475 page document recommending a health based maximum contaminant level for PFOA of 14 parts per trillion (ppt). The Executive Summary identifies some concerns about PFOA that have not been previously highlighted.
It was already well known that PFOA has been “probably linked” to testicular cancer, kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, pregnancy induced hypertension and thyroid disease, as well as elevated cholesterol. The NJDWQI raises concerns regarding PFOA’s impact on children. The following is taken verbatim from page 6 of the summary:
Exposures to Infants: In humans, PFOA has been measured in amniotic fluid, maternal serum, umbilical cord blood, and breast milk. Serum PFOA concentrations in infants at birth are similar to those in maternal serum. Both breast-fed infants whose mothers ingest contaminated drinking water and infants fed with formula prepared with contaminated drinking water receive much greater exposures to PFOA than older individuals who consume drinking water with the same PFOA concentration.
The DWQI report concluded that PFOA concentrations in the blood of breast-fed infants increased greatly within the first few months of life, and that the same is true of infants who consume formula prepared with contaminated water. These levels remain elevated for several years thereafter, and:
These elevated exposures during infancy and early childhood are of particular concern because early life effects are sensitive endpoints for the toxicity of PFOA.
The problems are not solved by the elimination of PFOA contaminated water as a continuing source of exposure. Exposed women of childbearing age still have high levels of PFOA in their blood and can pass it along to their children, even if it is no longer in the water supply. At a recent meeting, Dr. Richard Clapp, an epidemiologist who has studied PFOA for years, stated that knowledge of blood levels is especially important to women who may wish to breast feed their children. The DWQI concluded that there is “sufficient” human evidence – the strongest descriptor for strength of evidence – that developmental exposure to PFOA reduces fetal growth (e.g. birth weight in humans). In other words, in utero exposure to PFOA is likely to lead to growth retarded newborns.
The DWQI did not even use any of these endpoints as a basis for establishing its health based maximum contaminant level of 14 ppt. Instead it used animal toxicology data showing adverse effects on liver weight. Consideration of the risks posed by PFOA to humans, including children, makes it clear that even 14 ppt is an insufficiently conservative “standard.”
For more than 25 years, Williams Cedar have represented individuals and communities who have suffered the serious –and all-too-often fatal –effects of noxious, polluted environments. To set up a free consultation with a New Jersey envirnmental toxic tort lawyer at Williams Cedar call 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777.