Elevated PFAS Levels Found in the Chickahominy River Watershed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — October 28, 2021

Media Contacts:
Lorrie Andrew-Spear, Virginia Department of Health, Lorrie.Andrew-Spear@VDH.Virginia.gov
Greg Bilyeu, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Greg.Bilyeu@DEQ.Virginia.gov


Elevated PFAS Levels Found in the Chickahominy River Watershed
Multi-agency PFAS webinar will provide additional information

(Richmond, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has received information from Newport News Waterworks (NNWW) regarding results from a Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances – also known as “PFAS” – sampling of source water in the Chickahominy River watershed. DEQ and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) are developing a plan to verify and expand on the results NNWW provided to DEQ.

PFAS are widely used, long-lasting chemicals with components that do not break down naturally over time. The science regarding PFAS in the environment, including sampling methods and laboratory analysis continues to evolve.

The results indicate elevated PFAS in samples taken approximately 20 miles upstream from Walker’s Dam in tributaries in the White Oak Swamp watershed. Elevated levels were observed in the upper reaches of the White Oak Swamp near the Richmond International Airport (RIC), but conclusive sources of PFAS from the NNWW sampling efforts need to be confirmed.

NNWW is continuing to monitor source waters in coordination with state agencies and has assured residents that the water it provides to its customers is safe to drink and has consistently shown PFAS levels well below the lifetime health advisory from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). See details in the NNWW link below. For more information about the Newport News public water supply, contact Cyndi Masterstaff at cmasterstaff@nnva.gov.

DEQ and VDH are coordinating efforts to validate the findings and will keep the community informed of the progress. In addition, VDH is working with state and federal partners to gather more information to determine if any health advisories are warranted.

PFAS informational webinar to be scheduled soon

A webinar to discuss the findings from the NNWW sampling and provide information about future sampling plans, as well as a general overview of PFAS, will be scheduled next week. DEQ and VDH will provide more details as soon as they are available.

“We continue to watch PFAS closely in Virginia and are working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Virginia Department of Health and all of our partner agencies to develop statewide identification and mitigation strategies consistent with the emerging science as led by EPA and other agencies,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “We will continue to provide public updates on this situation as more information is available.”

“PFAS is an extremely important concern in the U.S. and in the Commonwealth. We commit to working together with DEQ and other partners to protect the health of our residents,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A.

Last week, EPA announced a comprehensive “Strategic Roadmap” to confront PFAS contamination nationwide. The plan will establish enforceable drinking water limits for these chemicals as well as provide tools to communities to protect people’s health and the environment.

More PFAS information:

PFAS fact sheet (www.nnva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/22983/PFAS-Fact-Sheet-PDF)

For general information on PFAS, and questions on DEQ testing and sampling, email DEQ Director of Central Operations Jeff Steers at Jeffrey.Steers@DEQ.Virginia.gov.

PFAS information

For questions on drinking water and general health questions email State Public Health Toxicologist Dwight Flammia, Ph.D., Dwight.Flammia@VDH.Virginia.gov

PFAS in Drinking Water (www.VDH.Virginia.gov/drinking-water/pfas/); PFAS Information for Private Well Owners (www.VDH.Virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/20/2021/10/Private-Well-PFAS-Information-sheet-8.13.2021.pdf);

VDH PFAS information (www.VDH.Virginia.gov/environmental-health/public-health-toxicology/pfas/)

PFAS (www.epa.gov/pfas)
EPA’s “Strategic Roadmap” for PFAS, 2021-2024 (www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-administrator-regan-announces-comprehensive-national-strategy-confront-pfas)