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Henrico County Well-Testing Initiative

Sampling and testing of surface water in the White Oak Swamp Creek area of eastern Henrico County has shown elevated levels of chemicals known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances). As a result, the Henrico County Department of Public Utilities is offering to test private wells in the target area at no cost to the resident or property owner. The county also is developing plans based on the test results.

well properties in flood plan of White Oak Swamp Creed basin

Well properties in the 100 year flood plain of the White Oak
Swamp Creek basin and within 5 miles of RIC Airport

PFAS Sampling

At no cost to the resident, Henrico County will begin private well sampling on Friday, December 3, 2021. Residents who sign up for testing will see Henrico County Public Utilities staff on Friday, December 3, 2021, and the week of December 6, 2021. Henrico Public Utilities will take drinking water samples from an outside spigot for testing through a contract laboratory. The results of the tests are expected to be available within two weeks. Henrico County is also developing plans for how it will respond to results from the tests.

Residents/property owners served by private drinking water wells within the White Oak Swamp Creek area can sign up for testing by contacting DPU at water@henrico.us or (804) 501 – 7540.

Background (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA))

  • PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are widely used, long-lasting chemicals with components that break down very slowly over time. PFAS have been used to make carpet, clothing, fabric for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials (e.g., cookware) that are resistant to water, grease, or stains. They are also used for firefighting at air fields and in industrial processes.
  • Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.
  • PFAS are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe.
  • Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.
  • There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they are found in many different consumer, commercial, and industrial products. This makes it challenging to study and assess the potential human health and environmental risks.
  • EPA researchers and partners across the country are working to answer critical questions about PFAS:
    • How to better and more efficiently detect and measure PFAS in our air, water, soil, and fish and wildlife
    • How much people are exposed to PFAS
    • How harmful PFAS are to people and the environment
    • How to remove PFAS from drinking water
    • How to manage and dispose of PFAS
  • To provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a degree of protection from exposure to PFAS in drinking water, EPA established a health advisory level for the chemicals at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). This is designed to help populations minimize the adverse health effects of exposure during their lifetimes.

Timeline

  • 2019 to 2021 – Newport News Waterworks performs PFAS/PFOS Source Water Screening Project in Chickahominy River Watershed Basin. Newport News Waterworks uses the Chickahominy River as a source for public drinking water.
  • April to May 2021 – Henrico County participated in the Virginia Department of Health Sampling Training and Study of Henrico County produced drinking water. All samples showed either no presence of PFAS/PFOS or below detectable limits.
  • August 2021 – Newport News Waterworks PFAS Screening and Verification Sampling continued
  • October 2021
    • Henrico County is notified of PFAS exceedances above the 70 ppt level in the Chickahominy Watershed
    • Henrico County coordinates with DEQ and VDH
    • Henrico County identifies properties served by private wells within the White Oak Swamp Creek Basin and develops sampling plan for White Oak Swamp Creek Basin and surrounding areas
  • November 2021
    • Henrico County performs validation sampling in White Oak Swamp Creek Basin
  • December 2021
    • Henrico County and DEQ/VDH begin drinking water sampling

Resources

Henrico’s Response to Elevated Levels of PFAS in the Chickahominy River Basin

Varina Community Conversations – Thursday, December 2 , 2021 – Well Water Testing

PFAS Webinar Slides, November 11, 2021

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Private Drinking Water Wells

PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories

 
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