OEHHA to accept public comments on drinking water decontamination initiative

After announcing an ambitious, first-in-the-state plan to address the state’s contaminated drinking water, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) will accept public input on the effort from July 30 to Sept. 28 of 2021. Implementation of the initiative is expected to take several years.

The plan aims to reduce the amounts of the perfluorinated chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in California’s drinking water. These chemicals are often used to make heat-resistant products, have long life spans, and varying amounts are present in millions of peoples’ drinking water. 


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When consumed, these “forever chemicals” — a title reflecting their longevity — have been linked to health conditions including kidney cancer and pregnancy issues. According to a CalMatters report, there are perfluorinated chemicals in 146 of California’s public water systems, impacting almost 16 million Californians.

The department established a public health goal (PHG) — the contamination level at which the water isn’t expected to cause adverse side effects — of 0.007 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 1 ppt for PFOS. As CalMatters notes, this goal is 70 times smaller than the unenforced federal guidelines.

In addition to gathering written input during the comment period, OEHHA will hold a virtual workshop to “enable dialogue” between OEHHA scientists and the public on Sept. 28, 2021, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

After the public comment period and “external scientific review,” OEHHA will evaluate the comments, produce an updated document, and hold a second 30-day public comment period for the new document. After this, the office will make any other necessary revisions and post the final plan on the OEHHA website along with its responses to the major comments it received.