TRI-STATE (WEHT) – The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) completed a survey of ambient PFAS levels in the Ohio River during 2021.

According to the report, Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals and these have been used in industry and consumer product manufacturing since the 1950s because of their non-stick, water resistant, low surface tension and surface spreading properties. The Environmental Protection Agency says PFAS exposure could lead to health risks.

The report says because these substances are very stable, they don’t break down but rather remain in the
environment. PFAS compounds can enter bodies of water through direct discharge, runoff, or air
deposition. As a result, some question whether PFAS compounds are present in high levels in
natural bodies of water since this may be a route of exposure for humans. Nationally, there is an increased awareness over whether PFAS contaminants are present in significant levels in natural waterbodies since this may be a route of exposure for humans.

The report says the main goal was to characterize ambient levels of select PFAS compounds in the Ohio River at 20 sampling locations. The survey was not intended to focus on drinking water, but rather to develop an understanding of ambient baseline conditions of PFAS in Ohio River surface water. The study was not intended to identify sources or determine ecological and health risks. The results from this effort may help to inform state and federal agencies, water utilities and other interested parties on the status of PFAS in the river and provide a base understanding to evaluate the potential need for future PFAS monitoring in the Ohio River. A second goal of the study was to investigate the distribution of PFAS in the Ohio River water column.

The first round of sampling had more traces in it, but later tests showed current PFAS levels were not alarming.

The report says the data tables and report will be updated after analytical results have been reviewed and approved for release by USEPA. A link to the full report can be found here.