The Oregon Health Authority's Drinking Water Services agency has selected Tualatin as one of its sites to test for a chemical that could lead to adverse human health effects.
The agency recently tested the city's aquifer Storage & Recovery site looking for any potentially harmful chemicals known as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Those are artificial chemicals used in a variety of industries including food packaging, carpets, non-stick products, medical supplies, firefighting foam and more.
A representative from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality took two samples on Oct. 19, according to city officials.
"In staff's discussion with the state, they couldn't provide an exact reason why the ASR (Aquifer Stroage & Recovery site) was one of the selected locations but we believe it was selected due to its proximity to quarry operations, the TVF&R training facility, and potentially other industrial-type uses in that area. This is not something that has been addressed in the past," said City Manager Sherilyn Lombos.
The city's aquifer is located at Southwest 108th Avenue and Dogwood Street.
Tualatin is one of 150 drinking systems throughout the state to be tested for the so-called "forever chemicals" the Salem Statesman Journal recently reported.
PFAS, which also include PFOA, PFOS, GenX and other similar chemicals, have been around since the 1940s, according to a frequently asked questions sheet distributed by the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division.
Terrance W. Leahy, Tualatin's water manager, said water from the aquifer storage system enters the city's general water system and "is blended into the distribution system during times of high demand. It primarily supplies our B-level pressure zone, but is not isolated to any specific area in the system."
The state quotes data from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, stating there is "evidence from human and animal studies that suggest high levels of certain PFAS may lead to increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, small decreases in infant birth weights, decreased vaccine response in children, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer."
On Oct. 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will regulate PFAS, setting drinking water limits for them under the Safe Drinking Water Act and will institute reporting requirements to manufacturers containing the chemical, according to the Associated Press.
Leahy said the city has been told it could take anywhere from one to three months to receive city water sample results back.
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