San Jose Water employee checking water outlet

Learn More about PFAS and its Family of Compounds (PFHxS)

We want you to be informed about your drinking water quality. The State’s Division of Drinking Water recently established notification and response levels for the PFAS family of compounds that you should be aware of. 

What are PFAS?

PFAS are manmade chemicals that have been widely used in industry and consumer products ranging from water-repellent textiles to firefighting foam. PFHxS, part of the PFAS family, is one of many compounds known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS, including PFHxS, have now been found in trace amounts throughout the environment in air, soil, sediment, and precipitation, as well as in rivers, lakes, seas, and groundwater.

What levels of PFHxS have been found in our water? 

Since 2019, as part of our rigorous water quality testing protocols, San Jose Water has been proactively testing all active wells throughout our service area to identify how our system may be impacted by PFAS. This has been done despite there being no current drinking water standard — also known as the maximum contamination level (MCL) — for any PFAS, including PFHxS. To-date: 

  • SJW has not had any detections of PFHxS that reached the Response Level (RL) of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) set by the State Water Resources Control Board.
  • PFHxS has been detected above the Notification Level (NL) of 3 ppt at 13 well stations. 

How can PFHxS affect my health?

Some scientific studies suggest that certain PFAS may affect different systems in the body. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health Registry (ATSDR) are working with various partners to better understand how exposure to PFAS might affect people’s health — especially how exposure to PFAS in water and food may be harmful. 

What is SJW doing to address PFHxS? 

In response to data gathered during our monitoring program, San Jose Water has successfully completed an evaluation of treatment methods to remove PFHxS at two of the most impacted well fields. These studies looked at all of the treatment options for removing PFHxS from drinking water, including activated carbon, reverse osmosis, ion exchange, and nanofiltration. As San Jose Water continues this research, the information gained will be used to inform treatment decisions at other locations. 

Can home filters remove PFHxS from my drinking water?

There are a few options on the market that can be used for treatment. These include filter cartridges, under sink filters, and reverse osmosis units. The National Sanitation Foundation certifies water filters that reduce PFAS/PFHxS in drinking water. When looking for a point-of-use filter or a home treatment system, check the National Sanitation Foundation website to make sure it is certified to remove these contaminants. 

What is being done about cleanup of the groundwater supply? 

San Jose Water and Valley Water have been working closely with engineers and geologists from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to identify sites in the region that could be potential contributors to PFAS contamination. Once identified, further in-depth studies and, ultimately, cleanup of these locations will commence. 

Should I be drinking the water? 

It is important for you to know that your water continues to meet all state and federal drinking water standards. Researchers across the country are working to find out more about PFAS (and its family of contaminants) and its effect on people and the environment, as well as how to remove it from drinking water. 

Where can I get tested to see if I have PFAS in my body? 

Consult your medical professional to determine whether to test for these chemicals. 

How can I reduce my exposure to PFAS?  

PFAS are present at low levels in some food products and in the environment (air, water, soil, etc.), meaning it is quite difficult to avoid PFAS exposure altogether. However, if you live near known sources of PFAS contamination, you can take steps to reduce your risk of exposure.  

  • Check for contaminant advisories on water bodies where you fish:
    • Follow advisories which communicate stopping or limiting eating fish from waters contaminated with PFAS or other compounds. 
  • Read consumer product labels and avoid using those with PFAS.  
  • Any PFAS detected in the drinking water served by SJW is well below the Response Level set by the Division of Drinking Water. However, some home treatment devices such as carbon filters may further improve water quality at your tap. When looking for a point-of-use filter or a home treatment system, a good resource is the National Sanitation Foundation website to make sure it is certified to remove these contaminants.

Should I drink bottled water to avoid PFAS?

Bottled water manufacturers are not subject to the same testing requirements as drinking water utilities. Please contact bottled water producers directly for information about any PFAS questions you may have.

How do I know if the water I drink has PFAS in it? 

All water quality data is published in our annual Consumer Confidence Report. 

Where can I find more information on PFAS?

*Source for some included content: