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Westville, NJ residents concerned after PFNA levels in drinking water exceed standards

Jul 01, 2023

WESTVILLE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Some residents in Westville, New Jersey are concerned after receiving a notice that their drinking water system exceeds the state's new standards for levels of a class of chemicals called perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).

"I had an idea being we are in such proximity to neighboring towns that's been affected," said Allison Lucci of Westville. "It's very concerning."

Lucci says she's using bottled water as a preventative measure.

"Ever since I've lived here, we've been only drinking bottled water, but there's unavoidable things, like washing your clothes, dishes, showering, and the potential risk is there for everyone," said Lucci.

According to the notice, in the second quarter of 2023, the water system violated a New Jersey drinking standard for exceeding the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PNFA.

The chemicals found in the water system are used as a processing aid in the manufacturing of high-performance plastics, according to the notice.

SEE ALSO: Communities work to meet new drinking water standards in New Jersey

The notice also says people who drink water containing PFNA in excess over time could experience problems with their liver, kidney, and immune system. In males, the reproductive system may be affected, along with developmental delays in a fetus/ and or infant.

The notice goes on to say that people including the elderly, children and those with health concerns may choose to get bottled water to reduce their exposure, but it's not necessary.

"What doctor can read that letter and say, 'Yeah, your body can handle that.' Nobody can. We don't know," said Gwen Herzalla of Westville.

Residents took their concerns to the borough council meeting Monday night where they questioned officials.

Public Works Superintendent Martin Finger Jr. says stricter standards by the state of New Jersey mean communities are at higher risk of exceeding the acceptable levels of these forever chemicals in the water.

Westville is just the latest community to be impacted.

"I know it's kind of scary, it's not anything we did specifically. It's an ongoing problem throughout Gloucester County," said Finger. "I don't know if this will help, but I have family that lives in town, I haven't, I won't tell them to stop drinking it."

Finger says they are designing and purchasing a new filtration treatment system. The estimated cost will be between $1.5 and $2 million.

The process could take up to two years to complete.

To read the full notice, click here.

New Jersey adopted a standard, or MCL, for PFNA in 2018 and monitoring began in 2021. The MCL for PFNA is 0.013 parts per billion (ppb) and is based on a running annual average (RAA), in which the four most recent quarters of monitoring data are averaged.