Information About PFAS

    What are PFAS?
    Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of thousands of human-made chemicals. They have been used in many consumer and household products since the 1940s, including cookware, food packaging, and stain repellants, as well as some firefighting foams used at airports, fire training areas, emergency response locations and military installations.
    PFAS are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they do not easily break down and can stay in the environment for long periods of time.

    How can you be exposed to PFAS?
    Humans are exposed to PFAS through a wide variety of pathways, and most people in the U.S. have detectable amounts of one or more specific PFAS in their blood. The most common sources of human exposure to PFAS include:
    • Drinking water, especially in areas where the water source is near where PFAS have been used or disposed such as landfills and airfields.
    • Surfaces treated with PFAS-containing stain and waterproofing protectants such as carpets, furniture, or clothing. PFAS are ingested through the mouth or from breathing in dust.
    • Foods that may contain PFAS when they come from areas with contamination include fish, game meat, dairy products, and produce. Food that is packaged in materials that contain PFAS such as fast food wrappers or microwave popcorn bags.
    • Industrial exposure to workers and firefighters who make or use PFAS containing products
    • Only a few of the thousands of PFAS have been studied for their potential to affect people’s health. Research is ongoing and we will learn more over time. Studies that have occurred suggest that exposure to certain PFAS may lead to health problems including changes in the liver, cardiovascular effects, reproductive effects in women, immunological and developmental effects in infants and children, and an increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer.
    How much exposure is considered safe?

    Drinking Water
    • Currently, there are no federal regulations (i.e. Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs)) for PFAS in drinking water.
    • In 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Health Advisory Level (HAL) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for the sum of PFOA and PFOS concentrations in drinking water. While not an enforceable regulatory standard, the EPA HAL does provide drinking water customers, even the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from lifetime exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
    • In 2020, MDE selected 137 WTP’s in the State to be sampled.
    o Copies of the reports can be found at

    • Maryland Department of Environment performed sampling in the City of Havre de Grace in 2021. The results were 5.94 Parts per trillion, which was included in the City’s annual Consumer Confidence Report.

    Information derived from the following sources:

    – Maryland Department of the Environment

    – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    Further questions may be directed to Stephen Gamatoria- Director of Administration for the Havre de Grace.
    410-939-1800 x 1116 or


    PFAS_PWS_StudyP1-Appendix1_Phase1ResultsTable SJG