Understanding PFAS

PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that are used industry and consumer products. Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large and diverse group of chemicals used in many commercial applications due to their unique properties, such as resistance to high and low temperatures, resistance to degradation, and nonstick characteristics.

Whose Pipe Is it?

Do you know who is responsible for correcting a problem in your water supply or drains? If not, this guide will come in handy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are PFAS?

There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. One common concern is that PFAS generally break down very slowly, meaning that concentrations can accumulate in people, animals, and the environment over time.

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group. PFOA and PFOS have been replaced in the United States with other PFAS in recent years. In chemical and product manufacturing, GenX chemicals are considered a replacement for PFOA, and perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) is considered a replacement for PFOS.

How Do PFAS Affect Me?

Smith Mountain Lake is one of two primary sources of water that the BRWA uses for drinking water. The Lake has various rivers and streams that feed into the lake, one of which is the Roanoke River. Due to a level of PFAS found in the Roanoke River, the BRWA tested Smith Mountain Lake to see if PFAS was detected. Test results found that there was 5 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS found in the BRWA’s water. This is below the health advisory level of 10 ppt. One part per trillion (ppt or ng/L) is equal to one-billionth of a gram or it can be defined as one second in nearly 32,000 years.

Smith Mountain Lake water is the primary water source for customers living in Moneta. The BRWA also sends water from SML to its customers in Forest and the Town of Bedford. However, this water is also blended with water from other sources and is typically not the sole water source for these areas.

The BRWA sent a letter to customers who may receive water from SML during the June billing cycle – 06/15/23 and 06/30/23.

How’s the BRWA Treating My Water?

The best form of treating water with PFAS in it is called granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment. This is already a form of water treatment that the BRWA has been using since the SML Water Treatment Facility was built in 2017. The BRWA is continuing to study how to best use GAC in the treatment process to ensure the BRWA is treating its water to best remove PFAS from the water.

The BRWA will continue to test and monitor its drinking water for PFAS and comply with all health advisories and regulations to provide the highest quality of drinking water possible.

Where Can I Learn More?

If you are interested in learning more about PFAS, here are a few suggested resources: