A recently completed Massachusetts Sierra Club (MASC) study raises new concerns regarding PFAS in Massachusetts. The Sierra Club analysis of public data from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shows widespread PFAS contamination throughout the Commonwealth in the ground water and surface water used for drinking water.
The study released today highlights the fact that 70% of our Massachusetts communities have detectable levels of the six most dangerous PFAS in their ground and surface waters. Clint Richmond, the lead of MASC Toxics Policy group says, “DEP has regulated these chemicals because they do not break down naturally, persist in ecosystems, and are linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity and other health impacts even in extremely small amounts.” The DEP standard is 20 ppt (parts per trillion) for the six PFAS. Many systems have measured more than three times that level.
The Sierra Club has taken the results of the DEP screening data set and expanded it to cover all measurements for all tested chemicals. “We found that, to date, 91% of the 175 communities testing for twelve or more chemicals have detectable levels of up to 13 different PFAS chemicals in their water sources”, Richmond said, noting that “many have levels much higher than 20 ppt for the other chemicals alone.”
From 2016 to date (October 17, 2021), 591 systems in 259 municipalities have had their results published, and 75 systems in 56 communities have exceeded the Massachusetts quality limits for six regulated PFAS compounds (“PFAS6”) in drinking water of 20 ppt. “These numbers will grow with continued PFAS use and more testing. Rhode Island is testing for 25 chemical, and our research there highlights additional chemicals that are likely also found in Massachusetts,” said Richmond. “DEP should be testing now for all testable PFAS compounds, which is still only a tiny fraction of the 9000+ PFAS compounds.”.
According to MASC Director Deb Pasternak, “The existing data already demonstrates the need to protect the public by preventing further contamination through additional research, legislation, and state regulation.”
Richmond concluded, “DEP and water systems are taking appropriate measures to deliver the best possible drinking water. This study reveals the underlying conditions that we are facing to access clean water. Chemical companies have completely contaminated the Commonwealth with PFAS over the course of decades, and are continuing to do so in the absence of Federal action. Just a handful of companies have developed thousands of these exotic chemicals and are liable for their impacts. The Sierra Club urges the Legislature to take action to begin to end the unnecessary use of these toxic chemicals.”
For a one-page summary of the data see:
Here is a longer three-page overview of the study results, which also incorporates the latest official DEP list: https://www.sierraclub.org/massachusetts/pfas-mass-water-part-1
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