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PFAS (Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)

What are PFAS?

PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) are manmade synthetic chemical compounds present in industrial and consumer products.

How are PFAS containments introduced into the environment?

PFAS containments are not natural in the environment, but tests results reveal detectable levels in groundwater and river waters in central Wisconsin. Research studies indicate that firefighting foams containing levels of PFAS used during firefighting exercises have migrated into ground water. Other contributors of PFAS are industry release, landfills, wastewater effluents, wax paper, fast food containers, cosmetics.

Can PFAS be removed?

PFAS containments do not readily breakdown in the environment and can be difficult to remove from drinking water sources. Currently, ground water systems are the target for testing. Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) treatment is successful in removing PFAS containments.

What are the drinking water regulations and/or standards for PFAS?

USEPA has set PFAS health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion. Wisconsin Department of Health Services continues to review research on health effects but has recommended to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources a drinking water regulatory standard at 20 parts per trillion.

Has Sheboygan Water Utility tested its drinking water for PFAS?

Yes, the Sheboygan Water Utility tested its drinking water for (6) PFAS/PFOS contaminants in 2014 and (18) PFAS/PFOS contaminants in 2021. During 2021 testing, 17 of 18 contaminants were not detectable.

The Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid compound (PFOS) was found to be detectable at a low-level result of 2.3 parts per trillion. The Wisconsin Department of Health Service proposed a 20 parts per trillion standard to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Spring 2021. The new standard is expected to be signed into law by Summer 2022.

The utility will also participate in additional PFAS/PFOS testing in the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 5 (UCRM5), which is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2023.

See links below for reducing PFAS in your drinking water:

Reducing PFAS in Your Drinking Water (wisconsin.gov)

NSF certified home filters that reduce PFAS levels: NSF Certified Home Filters

More Information on PFAS:

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR)


Basic Information on PFAS (EPA)



PFAS Health Effects (WDHS)