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Occurrence and source identification of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in the Metedeconk River Watershed, New Jersey

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The Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (BTMUA), which relies on the Metedeconk River as its primary source of water supply, initiated a perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) source trackdown study in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) after discovering that the concentration of one PFAA, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), was elevated at their raw surface water intake. Water samples were collected over eight sampling events between September 2011 and July 2014. Samples included surface water, groundwater, stormwater, sanitary sewer water, and commercial/industrial process water. Each sample was analyzed for ten PFAAs. Results from a set of samples collected from the 80 km2 South Branch Metedeconk River watershed directed the focus of this study to a 7.5-km2 area of interest. Within this area, a high concentration of PFAA contamination was documented in a localized zone. Subsequent groundwater sampling led to the identification of a plume of groundwater contamination emanating from an industrial/business park. The suspected source of PFAA detected in the river and drinking water intake was identified to a small industrial facility that used materials containing PFOA. Groundwater PFOA concentrations as high as 70,000 ng/L were found in samples taken within 200 m of the parcel and surface water concentrations as high as 130 ng/L were observed in the river. While various PFAAs were detected in the samples, particularly in groundwater samples, PFOA was identified as the primary contaminant of concern with respect to the river and the BTMUA water supply.

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The authors are grateful to the following individuals and organizations for their assistance with the project: Gary Buchanan, Gloria Post, and Lee Lippincott of the NJDEP DSREH; Karl Muessig, Raymond Bousenberry, and Gregg Steidl of the New Jersey Geological & Water Survey; Mark Strynar and Andrew Lindstrom of the USEPA National Exposure Research Laboratory; BTMUA Board of Commissioners; James Lacey, Glenn Hamelink, Joseph DiMatteo, Shari Kondrup, Michael Planko, John Rouse, and Will Ruocco of the Brick Township MUA; Michael Willis and William Suchodolski of the Ocean County Utilities Authority; Thomas French of Eurofins Eaton Analytical, Inc.; Michael Mangum and Ernest Kuhlwein of Ocean County; Michael Espinoza of JCP&L; Brett Vanderford and Eric Dickenson of the Southern Nevada Water Authority; Daniel O’Rourke of CDM Smith; Brian Kokot of Environmental Probing Investigations, Inc.; and Larry Doyle of Berkeley HazMat. Access to sampling locations was kindly provided by Lakewood Township, Lakewood Industrial Commission, Ocean County, Ocean County Utilities Authority, and JCP&L. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NJDEP or BTMUA.

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Correspondence to Nicholas A. Procopio.

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Responsible editor: Ester Heath

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Procopio, N.A., Karl, R., Goodrow, S.M. et al. Occurrence and source identification of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in the Metedeconk River Watershed, New Jersey. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 27125–27135 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0309-3

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  • Perfluoroalkyl acids
  • PFAA
  • New Jersey
  • Groundwater
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid
  • PFOA