Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are family of manmade chemicals used for more than 50 years to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Perfluorinated compounds like PFOS and PFOA are extremely stable and do not breakdown in the environment.
Common uses for PFAS include:
Coatings on some food packaging, especially microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers
Many industrial applications
Customers can contact the department’s water quality laboratory at 336-222-5133 with any questions or concerns.
PFAS AND 1,4-DIOXANE TESTING PROGRAM
In October 2020, the City of Burlington and the Haw River Assembly entered into a Memorandum of Agreement formalizing Burlington’s commitment to analyze and examine potential sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4-dioxane compounds discharged from the City’s two Wastewater Treatment Plants. The conventional wastewater treatment processes and techniques typical for municipal wastewater treatment do not remove these emerging contaminants of concern. They pass through the treatment plants and are discharged with treated effluent. You can view the Memorandum of Agreement here. Read the joint Media Release with the Haw River Assembly about the Agreement here.
This sampling program focuses on treated wastewater, not on City of Burlington drinking water. The City’s drinking water consistently tests well below current US EPA health advisory levels for PFOA/PFOS.
The comprehensive analysis includes sampling the City’s industrial wastewater users, the City’s wastewater collection system, and its internal wastewater treatment plant processes. The goal is to identify potential sources of PFAS, 1,4-dioxane, and precursor compounds that may combine in a chemical reaction to form PFAS compounds. In the spirit of full transparency and cooperation, the agreement requires every sample taken to be ‘split’ with the Haw River Assembly for independent testing by their selected experts.
The City of Burlington is and always has been in compliance with its discharge permits issued by NCDEQ under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The City has contacted NCDEQ to identify if any of their testing or evaluations raise concerns with PFAS levels in City of Burlington Wastewater. The NCDEQ has raised none to date.
The City also values the input and advocacy of the Haw River Assembly. We believe that this good-faith, cooperative effort with the Assembly to identify potential sources of PFAS and 1,4-dioxane in wastewater can serve as a model for environmental partnership in North Carolina.