Tough New Limit Proposed for a Toxic Chemical in New Jersey's Drinking Water

Environmentalists on Tuesday welcomed a proposal by New Jersey’s Drinking Water Quality Institute to set a tough new limit on the presence of PFOA, a toxic chemical, in drinking water, saying that if adopted by the Christie administration, it would make the state a national leader in regulation of the chemical.

The DWQI, a scientific panel that advises the Department of Environmental Protection, recommended a maximum contaminant limit (MCL) of 14 parts per trillion (ppt) for the chemical. This is significantly lower than guidance levels of 70 ppt and 40 ppt set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey DEP, respectively.

The chemical – formally called perfluorooctanoic acid – was commonly used for non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foam, and was phased out by eight major U.S. manufacturers following a voluntary agreement with the EPA in 2006 with the goal of eliminating it by 2015. Other manufacturers, especially outside the U.S., continue to make the chemical, adding to water contamination that is left over from previous production, the DWQI said.