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Assessment of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in West Virginia Public Source-Water Supplies

Detailed Description

What are PFAS?

  • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic organic compounds used in a variety of industries since the 1940s.
  • PFAS are soluble in water, colorless, odorless, and tasteless.
  • Recent studies have linked PFAS exposure to thyroid disease, immune system disruption, risk of cancer, and low birth weight.

How are West Virginians exposed to PFAS?

  • Drinking water and consumer products are major pathways of human exposure to PFAS.
  • Starting with industry, PFAS can end up in aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs), the environment, consumer products, and waste infrastructure. These are pathways to human exposure and potential transfer of PFAS to infants through breast milk and cord blood.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) are working to understand the distribution of PFAS in West Virginia's public source water supplies.

Two-year project:

  • Sampling source water at every public water system in the state.
  • Analyzing PFAS and inorganic elements.
  • Measuring relevant field parameters.

Benefits to West Virginia:

  • Information to state regulatory agencies about PFAS occurrence for better drinking water source protection.
  • Identification of need for further investigation, such as the sampling of private wells.
  • Insight into geochemical and geohydrologic factors affecting the presence of PFAS in water.

For more information, visit:


Sunderland, E.M., Hu, X.C., Dassuncao, C. et al, 2019, A review of the pathways of human exposure to poly- and perfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) and present understanding of health effects. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 29, 131-147. 

USEPA, 2019, EPA’s Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) action plan: EPA823R18004, 72 p.,…


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Graphic courtesy of Impact Science, commissioned by the U.S. Geological Survey.