The first of many test results for per- and polyflyouroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals are expected to start coming in soon. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) include a large group of man-made chemicals that have been used for decades.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began sampling for these chemicals in October as part of a comprehensive plan to better understand PFAS levels in Iowa’s drinking water. DNR focused on public drinking water supplies because drinking water is the primary path for people to be exposed to PFAS.

DNR identified 102 sites where the facilities are supplied by surface water or shallow groundwater sources, and those close to a potential PFAS source. So far, DNR has collected raw and finished (or treated) drinking water samples at about 15% of the sites. Samples went to a laboratory certified to test for PFAS. As test results come in, DNR will report results to each public water supply. Results will also be posted on the DNR’s PFAS webpage.

EPA set a lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS to protect people from the risks of exposure in drinking water. If PFOA or PFOS is detected, DNR will work with the public water supply to set up a year-long sampling plan, requiring monitoring every three months.

If individual or combined test results show PFOA or PFOS levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory of 70 ppt, the water supply is required to notify its customers. And, DNR will work to identify potential sources of contamination.  Additionally, the department is working with the Iowa Department of Public Health on this issue.

DNR is taking a proactive approach to protect Iowans’ health and the environment. By testing the public drinking water sources, DNR will gain a better understanding of the potential for PFAS levels in Iowa. Results of the testing will guide DNR’s next steps  to ensure safe drinking water.