North Carolina is working aggressively to address the impacts of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in our state. PFAS compounds are widely used in commercial and consumer products such as food packaging, water- and stain-repellent fabrics, nonstick products and firefighting foams. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment. PFAS have been linked to health effects in humans and animals. 

To protect residents from future exposures and reduce environmental pollution, DEQ has developed a comprehensive Action Strategy to address PFAS contamination in a proactive, systematic way. This Strategy includes actions already underway across the Department as well as planned future actions. 

3 priorities: Protecting Communities, Protecting Drinking Water and Cleaning Up Existing Contamination

Since releasing the DEQ Action Strategy for PFAS on June 7, 2022, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has taken significant action to address PFAS in North Carolina with a focus on protecting communities, protecting drinking water and cleaning up existing contamination.  Press Release

Updates as of June 7, 2023:

  • DEQ is launching a pilot program under the Bernard Allen Emergency Drinking Water Fund to support North Carolina residents that have PFAS contamination in their private drinking water wells. Funding for treatment systems will be provided to eligible residents with PFAS contamination that equals or exceeds health advisory levels, on a scale based on household income.  The program is meant to address PFAS contamination when there is no designated responsible party that provides alternate drinking water.  The Bernard Allen program supports DEQ’s well sampling across the state and applications for the pilot treatment program will be provided to residents who meet the program criteria, as long as funding is available. 

    Learn more

  • DEQ continues to work with public water systems to assess PFAS levels across the state and prepare for final adoption of the EPA’s proposed drinking water regulation announced in March.

    • In 2022, DEQ performed three months of sampling at 50 municipal and county water systems identified in the 2019 PFAST Network study with PFOA/PFOS detections above the minimum reporting level of 4 parts per trillion indicated by the 2022 EPA interim health advisories.  Of those, 42 systems currently have PFOA or PFOS above the proposed Maximum Contaminant Levels. DEQ is actively working with the systems to determine options for treatment, reduction or alternate water sources. 

    • DEQ is currently sampling 655 small systems, including schools and daycares, to provide more complete data statewide. 

    • DEQ is utilizing federal funding for emerging contaminants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to assist public water systems with the required studies, assessments, and treatment projects to address PFAS contamination. 

  • DEQ’s regulatory divisions are requiring PFAS information from new facilities and industries; adding permit conditions as appropriate to address PFAS air emissions or wastewater discharges to require disclosure of data and additional monitoring;  and requiring all solid waste sanitary landfills to include PFAS analyses of all regular groundwater, surface water and leachate samples (March 13, 2023 letter). 

  • DEQ is moving forward with rule-making concepts for groundwater and surface water standards to be presented to the committees of the Environmental Management Commission in upcoming meetings. 

  • DEQ is actively collaborating with the state’s scientific community.  DEQ and the NC Collaboratory established the Applied Science Fellowship to strengthen the partnership between state regulators and academic experts and advance the science on PFAS.  Two rounds of the fellowship program have been completed with new cohorts starting each semester.  Nationally recognized experts from Duke University, East Carolina University, and the University of North Carolina system are working with DEQ staff on emerging issues, building collective scientific understanding and linking research with applied science.