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Board of Water Supply confirms trace amounts of PFAS were found in Waipio well

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The Honolulu Board of Water Supply announced Friday that trace amounts of perfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, were found in the Waipio Heights Wells Pumping Station last month during a routine test.

The Waipio well on Oʻahu serves water to the Waipio Crestview area between Lumi and Lumikula streets.

According to the existing DOH and proposed EPA standards, the levels found in the Waipio well pose no significant health concerns.

BWS manager and chief engineer Ernie Lau said the agency will continue to regularly monitor and test the well for any changes.

"We take our kuleana to provide safe drinking water to our community seriously and will continue to monitor for PFAS chemicals," Lau said in a press release.

The incident in Waipio comes at a time when several other Oʻahu areas are recovering from PFAS detections of their own. The state confirmed PFAS leaks in Kunia and Makakilo wells this year so far, coinciding with the ongoing battle between the state and community to defuel Red Hill.

State toxicologist with the Department of Health Diana Felton told HPR last month that "forever chemicals," a nickname for PFAS given their thousand-year breakdown period, are surprisingly unavoidable.

The chemicals are found along the linings of nonstick pans, waterproof jackets, firefighting foams and more.

"It’s going to be impossible for anyone to completely 100% avoid exposure to these chemicals because they really are everywhere," Felton told HPR last month.

However, the EPA recently proposed new regulations for PFAS in drinking water. The Associated Press reported that the EPA hopes to limit PFAS to 4 parts per trillion, the lowest level that can be reliably measured, for two common compounds called PFOA and PFOS.

The EPA will hold a public hearing about the proposed regulation on May 4.

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