FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

PFAS FAQ

Forward & Disclaimer

This webpage contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about PFAS and plastic pipe. Click on the question to be taken to the answer.

This information is offered in good faith and believed to be accurate at the time of its publication. Additional information may be needed in some areas, especially with regards to unusual or special applications. Consult the manufacturer or material supplier for more detailed information. A list of member manufacturers is available on the PPI website HERE. PPI does not endorse the proprietary products or processes of any manufacturer and assumes no responsibility for compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

What are PFAS Chemicals?

  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of mostly human-made chemicals. They are carbon-based molecules with fluorine atoms attached. Depending on how they are defined, it is said that there are over 10,000 PFAS chemicals.
  • The PFAS chemicals regulated in drinking water are fluorinated compounds with less than 10 carbons in length and include a functional group to make it soluble in water. A PFAS chemical is illustrated in Figure 1.
  • PFAS chemicals are widely used in various industrial and consumer products due to their water- and grease-resistant properties. These include firefighting foams, non-stick cookware, water-repellent outdoor gear, pharmaceuticals, electronics, textiles, and numerous other applications.
  • According to the US EPA, exposure to certain PFAS chemicals has been linked to various health issues, including developmental effects, liver damage, birth defects, immune system disruption, and an increased risk of certain cancers, hence the effort to regulate them in the marketplace and in drinking water. The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and Health Canada are regulating 6 specific PFAS chemicals in drinking water. These are being regulated at the part per trillion level (equivalent to approximately a single grain of rice in a house filled with rice). This is in comparison to lead that is regulated in drinking water at 5 parts per billion, which is approximately 1000 times higher.
  • For more information on the nature of PFAS chemicals, visit:

 

What PFAS chemicals are being regulated for drinking water?

  • On April 10, 2024, US EPA finalized a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) establishing legally enforceable levels, called Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), for six PFAS chemicals in drinking water. The MCL level is the maximum level permitted in drinking water. These 6 PFAS chemicals are identified as PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, PFBS and HFPO-DA. They are regulated as individual chemicals and as mixtures with the MCLs shown below. (Source: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) | US EPA, 4/12/24)

*The Hazard Index is made up of a sum of fractions. Each fraction compares the level of each PFAS measured in the water to the highest level below which there is no risk of health effects. For more on how to calculate the Hazard Index, see: EPA Fact Sheet

 

  • The PFAS chemicals regulated in drinking water are fluorinated compounds with straight carbon chain, of less than 10 carbons in length, and include a functional group to make it soluble in water.
  • According to the US EPA, public water systems must monitor for these six PFAS chemicals and have three years to complete initial monitoring (by 2027), followed by ongoing compliance monitoring. Water systems must also provide the public with information on the levels of these six PFAS chemicals in their drinking water beginning in 2027. Public water systems have five years (by 2029) to implement solutions that reduce these six PFAS chemicals if monitoring shows that drinking water levels exceed these MCLs. Beginning in five years (2029), public water systems that have these six PFAS chemicals in drinking water which violates one or more of these MCLs must take action to reduce levels of these six PFAS chemicals in their drinking water and must provide notification to the public of the violation. (Source: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) | US EPA, 4/12/24).
  • Health Canada is expected to establish similar requirements to the US EPA in the near future.

 

Do plastic piping products for drinking water contain PFAS chemicals?

  • The plastic piping products for drinking water applications is highly regulated within USA and Canada, with systems of codes, standards and third-party certifications which are extremely rigorous with regards to pipe materials (ingredients), production controls and finished products.
  • Related to drinking water safety, all plastic pipe, tubing, fittings, and system components must comply with federal regulations. NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 Drinking Water System Components - Health Effects is the legally recognized national standard in the United States and Canada for evaluating the human health effects of drinking water materials, components, and devices, and which ensures that approved materials are safe for drinking water. For further information on NSF 61 and plastic piping, visit:
  • Through these certification processes, third party certifiers review materials used in pipe, fittings, and tubing formulations, and confirm the safety of these products through frequent unannounced plant inspections, sampling and testing.
  • Based on a survey of PPI member companies producing piping and fitting materials and to the best of our knowledge, PPI does not believe that the six PFAS chemicals identified in the recently issued EPA National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR), docket EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0114, are intentionally added to PE, PE-RT, PP, or CPVC plastic piping materials used in potable water transport, water distribution, or plumbing.
  • Certain piping products, such as valves with seals or gasketed flange seals, may contain components made from fluoropolymers (e.g., PTFE, PVDF, PFA). These polymers are not the six chemicals regulated by the EPA for drinking water regulation.

 

To what standards are plastic piping products for drinking water certified?

 

What is PPI doing regarding PFAS?

PPI recognizes that municipalities and their officials are facing complex, costly and evolving sets of regulations and potential lawsuits associated with PFAS chemicals and are having to invest heavily in water treatment to remove PFAS chemicals from drinking water.
 
PPI has published PPI Statement AA - PFAS Chemicals and Plastic Piping for Potable Water Transport for PE, PP, CPVC piping materials.

PPI is also:

  • Monitoring US, Canadian and worldwide regulatory activity
  • Following advancements in the understanding of the impact of PFAS on human health and the environment
  • Engaging with water utility experts to better understand how PPI can support end-user efforts to address regulatory and engineering concerns.
  • Participating in the NSF Drinking Water Additives Task Group and NSF Joint Committee on Drinking Water Additives System Components developing NSF 61 and NSF 600 requirements on PFAS in piping materials.
  • Educating members on the issues and supporting the industry in addressing concerns.

 

Submit a Question