Loveland's PFAS Files
Loveland water contaminated with highest in area “Forever Chemicals” – City Hall mostly mum
Dec 19, 2023
by David Miller
Loveland, Ohio – The city’s drinking water currently meets drinking water standards where enforcement action by regulators is not possible, however as early as January, when new regulations go into effect enforcement actions could be mandated and Loveland could face sanctions.
Testing has revealed that Loveland has two “Forever Chemicals” in its drinking water. One, at a level four times higher than what may soon become the enforceable standards proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is the highest reported level in the area.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are commonly referred to as “Forever Chemicals”. They are a class of widely used chemicals that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in humans. Research going back decades suggests evidence that Forever Chemicals impact human reproduction and development. Human health impacts include infertility, premature birth, trouble breastfeeding, delayed puberty, earlier menopause, and diverse metabolic impacts, as well as suggestions of a relationship with neurologic and behavioral disorders (including attention deficit hyperactivity [ADHD], autism, and schizophrenia). (*1)
Forever Chemicals may enter a person’s body when they drink water or eat food that has been contaminated. Unborn babies may be exposed to Forever Chemicals if their mother ingests them while she is pregnant, and babies may be exposed through breast milk. (*2)
Bioaccumulate means the toxic chemicals become concentrated inside the human body as time goes by. Because Forever Chemicals have a long “half-life” and if the chemicals are continuously ingested it’s a one-step forward, two-steps-back scenario.
Whether or not a person gets sick from exposure to PFAS depends on how long a person was exposed (duration), how often they were exposed (frequency), and how much PFAS they were exposed to (dose). Personal factors like age, lifestyle, and other illnesses may also determine whether or not a person gets sick from exposure to PFAS. (*2)
Loveland City Hall knows the truth and possibly understands the danger of “Forever Chemicals” in our tap water but remains mostly silent. They have not informed the public and only briefly discussed finding solutions at a November 28, 2023 council meeting when passing a resolution to approach a consulting company to explore the cost to determine the extent of the problem and recommend solutions.
City Manager Dave Kennedy told Loveland Magazine, “We have already secured the services of a water engineer (Burgess & Niple) who is doing a full analysis of our system modifications that need to be made to treat for PFAS and at the same time, steps the city can make to begin softening our water. The agreement with Burgess & Niple was approved by city council and the agreement was executed.” City Hall became aware of the elevated levels nine months ago, in March.
Loveland Magazine asked Kennedy whether the public was notified about the presence of Forever Chemicals in the tap water. He did not respond.
Loveland Magazine has sent City Hall a public records request for documentation in their possession along with a series of questions. To date, no records have been provided.
Among the questions:
• What would you recommend institutions such as schools and childcare facilities do? What about breweries, restaurants, and businesses? Same question about drinking fountains and during commercial food preparation.
• Has Loveland determined or investigated where the Forever Chemicals are ultimately coming from that have contaminated our well water? “We have not,” was Kennedy’s response.
• Loveland has an emergency connection to the City of Cincinnati’s Richard Miller treatment plant that currently tests negative for Forever Chemicals. When asked if the connection to the Cincinnati Water Works is large enough to satisfy Loveland’s needs for drinking, household, and commercial use, Kennedy responded by saying, “We intend to keep our water system, so I have not looked into the capacity of the city of Cincinnati.”
• Is the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department or other departments using firefighting foam containing Forever Chemicals at the fire training facility on East Loveland Avenue in Loveland? Have they in the past? “Will check with LSFD”, was the City Manager’s response, however, Loveland Magazine has not received an answer.
• Has Loveland determined or investigated where the Forever Chemicals are ultimately coming from that have contaminated our well water? “We have not,” responded Kennedy.
Neither the City Manager nor Ricky Gregory who runs Loveland’s water system have responded to say if they would be willing to answer questions during an on-camera interview.
“PFAS exposure through drinking water can be reduced by treating the water using reverse osmosis or certified carbon filtration units, or by using an alternative source of water that is not contaminated. In general, dermal contact with water is not a health concern because PFAS are not readily absorbed through the skin. Using water that contains PFAS for showering, bathing, laundry, or household cleaning is generally safe.” Look for products identified as certified to NSF International’s Standard P473. Products tested and certified by the Water Quality Association can be found here: https://www.wqa.org/find-products#/. (OEPA)
Loveland’s water wells are located on the East side of Bodly Park at the end of 10692 Bettyray Drive on the bank of the Little Miami River.
The wells draw water from an underground layer of water-bearing, permeable rock, rock fractures, or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt). (Wikipedia)
The source of the underground water is rainfall and other discharges onto the surrounding land and hillsides, and the Little Miami River. There are approximately 900 homeowners outside the Loveland City limits who also drink water from the Loveland wells. A small number of Loveland residents in Warren County receive water from the Western Water Company. There are approximately 13,000 residents of the City.
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemo therapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. (*3)
What the Ohio EPA says:
What are the health effects of exposure to PFAS?
It is important to keep in mind that exposure to PFAS does not always mean a person will have health effects. Whether or not a person gets sick from exposure to PFAS depends on how long a person was exposed (duration), how often they were exposed (frequency), and how much PFAS they were exposed to (dose). Personal factors like age, lifestyle, and other illnesses may also determine whether or not a person gets sick from exposure to PFAS.
There are many chemicals in the PFAS family, and they may cause different health effects if you are exposed to them. The health effects of PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, and PFNA have been more widely studied than other chemicals in the PFAS family. Some, but not all, studies in humans with PFAS exposure have shown that certain PFAS may: Affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and children; Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant; Interfere with the body’s natural hormones; Increase cholesterol levels; Affect the immune system; or Increase the risk of certain cancers.
Scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposures to mixtures of PFAS. For the most part, laboratory animals exposed to high doses of one or more PFAS have shown changes in liver, thyroid, and pancreatic function, as well as some changes in hormone levels. Because animals and humans process these chemicals differently, more research will help scientists fully understand how PFAS affect human health.
Pregnant and nursing women
Pregnant and nursing women may be more at risk than the general population to the health effects of PFAS. Pregnant and nursing women may want to consider treating their water source if they know or suspect it is contaminated with PFAS. They may also consider using an alternate source of water for drinking, making ice, preparing food, and brushing teeth.
Women who are planning to become pregnant may wish to take steps to reduce their exposure to PFAS. PFAS take a long time to leave the human body, and chemicals like PFOA, PFOS, and PFHxS can build up in a woman’s body if she is exposed for a long time. When she is pregnant, her fetus is then exposed to the chemicals that have built up inside her body. Research suggests that fetuses and babies are more vulnerable to exposure to PFAS than adults.
Breastfeeding provides many health benefits for mother and baby. Research has shown that babies who are breastfed are at less risk of ear and respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Mothers who breastfeed are at less risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and ovarian and breast cancer. Although PFAS can be passed from a mother to her child through breastmilk, the benefits of breastfeeding are far greater than any risks. ODH recommends that women currently breastfeeding continue to do so even if they have been exposed to PFAS. For information about breastfeeding, see the Ohio Department of Health Breastfeeding webpage or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) PFAS and Breastfeeding webpage.
Babies who are bottle-fed may also be at greater risk from drinking PFAS than adults because they drink more in proportion to their body weight. If your baby is bottle fed using a powdered or liquid formula, be sure the water mixed with the formula comes from a safe alternate source, such as a public or private water supply that has been tested for PFAS chemicals. This will reduce your baby’s exposure to PFAS. If your usual drinking water source is contaminated with PFAS, treat the water or use a safe alternate source for mixing formula or preparing food. Information about treating water for PFAS can be found by going to the main Ohio PFAS in Drinking Water page, clicking the “Private Drinking Water” tab, and expanding the “Home Treatment Options” menu.
Please consult with your healthcare provider or your child’s pediatrician with any PFAS exposure concerns.
Children have different exposure circumstances that make them especially sensitive to environmental contaminants, like PFAS. Understanding these differences is key for evaluating potential for environmental hazards from pollutants.
Children consume more of certain foods and water relative to body weight than adults. That means the same glass of water with the same PFAS concentration level results in greater exposure to a child versus an adult, even though they are drinking the same amount. Children also do not excrete chemicals as easily as adults, because the enzymes in their bodies that break down contaminants are still developing. That increases the chances for contaminants such as PFAS to interfere with a child’s growth and development.
In addition, young children tend to play close to the ground and come into contact with contaminated soil outdoors. To ensure the protection of children and other sensitive populations, the Ohio PFAS Action Levels are set to protect the most sensitive populations, thereby protecting the health of all populations in Ohio.[/learn_more]
Since many household pets are smaller than people, they also consume more of certain foods and water relative to their body weight than people. That means that the same bowl of water with the same PFAS concentration results in greater exposure to household pets, even though they may be drinking the same amount. As a precaution, if you have elevated levels of PFAS in your water, you should consider using alternative water for your household pets.[/learn_more]
Home Treatment Options
Water treatment in a home to reduce levels of PFAS can be:
At the point of entry (POE) where treatment all of the water entering the household plumbing system occurs, or;
At the point of use (POU) which is often at the kitchen sink or primary source of water for drinking or cooking (potentially also including a water line to the refrigerator if it has a plumbed in water line).
Either type of water treatment has pros and cons that should be considered before selecting the best treatment option for a home. The type of treatment system chosen should consider the volume of water that will be used in the home, the number and location of sites where water is consumed in the home, and the type of PFAS chemical identified in the laboratory result.
If water for drinking, cooking and making ice is primarily obtained from the kitchen sink, then the installation of a treatment unit below the sink or on the sink faucet is an option. If drinking water and ice are obtained from the refrigerator, then it is important to consider treating the water line to the refrigerator also.
If drinking water is obtained from multiple locations in a home, then a point of entry, or whole house treatment system may be preferred.
If possible, it is important to choose a treatment system that has been tested and certified to remove the PFAS present in the water based on data provided from the public water system provider or from a laboratory analysis.
Certified Water Treatment Products to Remove PFOA and PFOS
Currently, certified products are only for point of use (POU) treatment, which means they are products designed to treat the water at only one or two locations, usually at the kitchen sink and possibly the refrigerator if it has water connected. Certified products are either granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration or reverse osmosis (RO) treatment systems. It should be noted that some of the products certified to treat water at the point of use are counter-top products or pour through (like a pitcher filter that you fill from the tap yourself as needed).
NSF International and the Water Quality Association are independent third-party testing agencies that currently test and certify products to remove the specific PFAS PFOA and PFOS.
Look for products identified as certified to NSF International’s Standard P473. The NSF International consumer information team can also be contacted at [email protected] or 1-800-673-8010 for assistance in finding a certified product.
Products tested and certified by the Water Quality Association can be found here: https://www.wqa.org/find-products#/.
NSF Standard P473 was retired in March of 2019 when the testing protocol was incorporated into existing water treatment standards, so new products certifications are tested to meet either NSF/ANSI Standard 53: Drinking Water Treatment Units â€“ Health Effects for the reduction of PFOA and PFOS with granular activated carbon filtration systems or to NSF/ANSI Standard 58 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems for the reduction of PFOA and PFOS with reverse osmosis systems. There is currently not a standard for certification of other types of treatment systems.
Treatment System Products to Remove other PFAS
There are currently no certified standards for removing PFAS other than PFOA and PFOS, however, consideration of the type of PFAS chemical can inform the selection of the best water treatment system. PFOA and PFOS are longer chain PFAS than other chemicals in the PFAS family. Longer chain chemicals are larger which makes it easier for a filter or membrane to trap them. Shorter chain PFAS are harder to remove with granular activated carbon treatment alone. Though there is no product certification standard at this time, research has shown that reverse osmosis treatment systems can effectively remove a wide range of PFAS, including the shorter chain chemicals in the PFAS family.
Considerations for point of use (POU) granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment:
• Physical filter cartridge traps contaminant(s) which is then removed and disposed of at the end of its rated lifecycle.
• Filter must be replaced on a regular schedule (identified by the manufacturer).
• Generally, granular activated carbon filters provide more water flow than a reverse osmosis system.
• May not effectively treat shorter chain PFAS if present in addition to the longer chain PFOA and/or PFOS.
Considerations for point of use (POU) reverse osmosis (RO) treatment:
Typically requires pre-filtration to be installed to remove any sediment and small particles as well to maximize the life and effectiveness of the membrane.
Large volumes of water are wasted in the treatment process. Typically, for every 10 gallons sent into the treatment unit, 7-8 gallons are sent down the drain as waste, and 2-3 gallons of treated water are produced.
Membranes must be replaced on a regular schedule (identified by the manufacturer) in addition to any pre-filtration cartridges.
Research has shown it to effectively reduce shorter chain PFAS in addition to the longer chain PFOA and/or PFOS.
Point of Entry Water Treatment
Point of entry water treatment is where all the water entering the home is treated for the removal of PFAS. Though there are not currently any products certified to treat all water that enters a home (also called point of entry or POE treatment) for removing any of the PFAS family of chemicals, research has shown that a point of entry granular activated carbon treatment can be effective if properly designed.
These systems are commonly referred to as a lead-lag granular activated carbon system. This system consists of two flow through vessels filled with granular activated carbon with a water sample faucet installed between the two vessels (after the lead vessel, before the lag vessel). Water samples are collected periodically and analyzed for PFAS to monitor the lifespan of the first carbon vessel. When the first vessel starts to lose its ability to remove PFAS, it is removed, the second carbon vessel which was in the lag position is moved to the lead carbon vessel position and new granular activated carbon media is placed into the other vessel, and it is moved to the lag position. This design relies on the lag vessel to provide protection for the water consumer in case the lead vessel is no longer able to trap the PFAS before periodic sample collection identifies that the lead carbon vessel is no longer able to perform effective PFAS removal.
The installation of a point of entry water treatment system to treat water received from a public water system may require a local plumbing permit. Please check with the local building or health department to determine if a plumbing permit is needed.
The installation of a point of entry water treatment system to treat water received from a private water system (water well, spring, pond, rainwater cistern or hauled water storage tank) will require an installation permit form the local health district. These treatment systems may only be installed by a private water systems contractor registered by the Ohio Department of Health. These contractors are bonded and the list of registered contractors may be found at: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/private-water-systems-program/info-for-homeowners/.
Please be an informed consumer and request complete information on the components that will be installed, product certification as applicable, the maintenance requirements and cost, and appropriate disposal of the treatment media.
An Ohio resident can find which local health jurisdiction they live in using the directory of local health districts: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/find-local-health-districts.
Water Treatment System Costs
Please note that testing a water sample for PFAS at a lab certified to perform analysis of drinking water by U.S. EPA Standard Method 537.1 varies by private lab but is estimated to cost approximately $400 per sample. Water samples should be collected and analyzed prior to the selection of an installed treatment unit to help size and select the appropriate treatment device. After the treatment device is installed, water samples should be periodically analyzed to ensure the treatment unit is working properly. Initial and on-going sampling will add to the cost of the installation of treatment systems. Countertop or pitcher type devices will not require routine sampling but media should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. U.S. EPA cost estimates for different types of treatment types are below:
Approximate Initial Cost of Equipment
Approximate Media Replacement Cost
NSF P473 certified Point of Use Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)
$200 – $300 each year
NSF P473 certified Point of Use Reverse Osmosis (RO)
$400 – $700
$200 each year
Non-certified Lead-Lag Point of Entry Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)
$2000 each 3-5 years (depending on periodic testing results*)
Testing your blood for PFAS
While a PFAS blood test measures how much of specific PFAS are in a person’s body at the time of the test, there are limitations.
A PFAS blood test cannot:
• Tell you where or how you were exposed to PFAS found in your body;
• Tell you what, if any, health problems might occur or have occurred because of PFAS in your body; or
• Be used by your doctor to guide treatment decisions.
Measuring a person’s exposure to PFAS and monitoring potential impacts on human health is best addressed through consultation with a physician. ODH has and will continue to provide information and recommendations to healthcare providers to help providers and patients make informed decisions about what PFAS exposure might mean for an individual’s health. There is no recommendation from ODH or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that clinicians should test patients for PFAS. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns regarding PFAS exposure.
PFAS Testing for Individuals
ODH does not generally recommend testing your blood for PFAS. Physicians will not be able to treat a specific health issue using the result from this test. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns regarding PFAS exposure.
A blood test for PFAS can tell you what your levels are at the time the blood was drawn, but not whether levels in your body are safe or unsafe.
Most people in the U.S. have measurable amounts of PFAS in their body because PFAS are commonly used in commercial and industrial products.
The PFAS blood test is not a clinical test and cannot tell you whether your health has been or will be affected.
Many health issues associated with PFAS, such as increased cholesterol and decreased thyroid hormone levels, commonly occur in the population as a whole – even when not associated with high levels of PFAS in the blood.
These health issues can be caused by many factors, and there is no way to know or predict if PFAS exposure has or will cause your health problem.
If you have specific health concerns, please consult your doctor for the best treatment choices for you.
It is complicated to get a PFAS blood test.
It is not a routine clinical test, so you would need to contact a private lab directly to arrange the test and it is unlikely that insurance would cover the cost.
There are hundreds of PFAS around us. Labs can only test for a small number of PFAS in blood.
Laboratories that Offer PFAS Testing
ODH is aware of three private laboratories that offer PFAS testing in blood. ODH does not recommend specific labs and does not know specifics regarding the different tests they offer. The cost for PFAS blood testing is in the $500-800 range, not including fees that a clinic might charge for drawing and shipping the blood.
• Vista Analytical Laboratory; 916-673-1520, vista-analytical.com
• Quest Diagnostics; 1-866-697-8378; www.questdiagnostics.com
• SGS AXYS; 1-888-373-0881; www.sgsaxys.com
What you can do with your test results
You can compare your levels to those in groups of people nationwide. The National Biomonitoring Program by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tests a very large group of people for PFAS and other chemicals and tells us about average exposures in the U.S. population. These studies can be used to compare your blood test result to what is known about levels in people throughout the country.
(*1) The Devil they Knew: Chemical Documents Analysis of Industry Influence on PFAS Science by The Annuals of GlobbalHealth
(*2) PFAS in Drinking Water (OEPA)
(*3) Do I need to take special precautions? Western Water
UC research shows PFAS (Forever Chemical) exposure may delay girls’ puberty
The study found that in girls with PFAS exposure puberty is delayed five or six months on average but there will be some girls where it’s delayed a lot more.
Study is the first to pinpoint hormones as a functional mechanism in the delay
By Bill Bangert
This study is the first longitudinal research that included the component of the role hormones play in the delay, according to Susan Pinney, PhD, of the Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences in the UC College of Medicine and corresponding author of the study.
“Puberty is a window of susceptibility,” Pinney says. “Environmental exposures during puberty, not just to PFAS, but anything, have more of a potential for a long-term health effect. What these have done is extended the window of susceptibility, and it makes them more vulnerable for a longer period of time.”
The published research describes the findings from studying a total of 823 girls who were 6 to 8 years old when they were enrolled in the study — 379 were in the Greater Cincinnati area, the other 444 were in the San Francisco Bay Area. Researchers wanted to start the girls in the study before they hit the beginning of breast development. Then they followed them with exams every six to 12 months to see when they experienced the first signs of breast development and pubic hair.
The results found that 85% of the girls in the two cohorts had measurable levels of PFAS. Pinney says this PFAS research is unique because the hormone component was included and they discovered evidence of decreased hormones. The hormones that were decreased with PFAS exposure were consistent with findings of the delay of the onset of puberty.
“The study found that in girls with PFAS exposure puberty is delayed five or six months on average but there will be some girls where it’s delayed a lot more and others that it wasn’t delayed at all,” Pinney says. “We are especially concerned about the girls at the top end of the spectrum where it’s delayed more.”
The study also found that over 99% of the girls in the two cohorts had measurable levels of PFOA, one of the most important of the PFAS.
Pinney points to several factors playing a role in PFAS exposure in Greater Cincinnati. The Ohio River is the main source of drinking water in the area and a DuPont plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia, released PFAS into the river for decades which flowed downstream to major water intakes on both sides of the river near eastern Hamilton County. PFAS were also present in firefighting foam and there is a firefighting training ground near those same water intakes.
Pinney, who has studied this topic for years in collaboration with the now-retired Frank Biro, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine, says this and other studies raise the question of, considering the known dangers of PFAS, how did we get to this point? She points to the fact that the United States doesn’t follow the “precautionary principle” which is the principle that the introduction of a new product or process whose ultimate effects are disputed or unknown should be resisted.
“The evidence of PFAS being dangerous goes all the way back to the 1980s when chemists were doing studies, noticed that PFAS had the same chemical structure as other dangerous chemicals and they reported on it,” Pinney says. “It’s taken a very long time for us to recognize it as a human toxin. Meanwhile, all of these toxins got into our environment, and it’s going to take a long time before they leave.”
Pinney says one of the reasons is that PFAS do not degrade. Studies are being done to explore methods of breaking up the chemicals.
“It seems to take a long time to convince regulators about the health effects of PFAS,” she says. “We as scientists need to be more forceful with regulators and say, ‘Hey guys, you read the same science we read.’
“The whole thing has been a learning experience for me. Scientists are frustrated with the slowness of movement to change regulatory guidelines. Not only do we need to publish our research findings, but also do our best to inform the general population and the health care community. Efforts toward environmental cleanup have begun but it is very costly.”
Featured image at top: vitranc/iStock
Republished with permission of the author. Bill David Bangert is the Public Information Officer for the University of Cincinnati.