Montana DEQ Releases PFAS Surface Water Monitoring Report

Report provides overview of 2021 efforts to measure prevalence, magnitude of PFAS contamination in sample locations

Montana DEQ Releases PFAS Surface Water Monitoring Report | NRWA

HELENA,Mont.—Today, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) published a report on recent monitoring results for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in surface water. DEQ and the state of Montana recognize PFAS as emerging contaminants of concern, and a working group of state and local agencies completed the Montana PFAS Action Plan in June of 2020 to proactively identify and reduce or eliminate potential PFAS health risks. The “PFAS Surface Water Monitoring Project 2021 Monitoring Report” implements a portion of the Action Plan.

In 2021, DEQ implemented a limited PFAS monitoring effort to better understand whether the chemicals are present in Montana surface waters. The purpose of the monitoring was to measure the prevalence and magnitude of PFAS contamination in a small sample of locations to determine the potential scale of contamination across the state. Today’s report provides an overview of monitoring results—including selected rivers, streams and lakes in Helena, Great Falls, Billings and Bozeman.

Results of the 2021 monitoring project indicate that PFAS are moderately prevalent in some of the areas where sampling was conducted and PFAS concentrations range in magnitude depending on site location. Multiple PFAS were detected in areas of the state near or downstream of confirmed and potential sources of the contaminants. The detected PFAS are associated with the use of fire-fighting foams, food packaging, surfactants used in industrial processes, stain resistant fabrics, metal manufacturing and other uses. The monitoring data indicates that PFAS may be entering surface water from sources such as wastewater treatment plants, industrial facilities, military installations, airports and urban runoff. DEQ’s preliminary monitoring suggests that further studies will be necessary to identify and address sources of PFAS contamination.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “most people in the United States have been exposed to some PFAS.” PFAS are a group of thousands of human-made chemicals that have been used in many consumer and household products since the 1940s. PFAS are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they do not easily break down and can stay in the environment, and in our bodies, for long periods of time. To view more PFAS information from EPA, visit:

Research is ongoing, and only a few of the thousands of PFAS have been studied for their potential to affect people’s health. Current science suggests that exposure to certain PFAS may lead to health problems including changes in the liver, immunological effects, increased cholesterol levels, cardiovascular effects, reproductive effects in women, developmental effects in infants and children, and an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers. The EPA and other federal agencies continue to study the health effects of exposure to low levels of PFAS over long periods of time, and EPA is taking steps to address PFAS contamination across the country.

To view the report or learn more about PFAS visit: