A new Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection standard requires public water systems to test for PFAS, family of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have been detected in some public water supplies in Massachusetts and across the nation. Thousands of PFAS compounds exist. PFAS were widely used in manufacturing, consumer products like nonstick pans, and firefighting foam. When discarded, PFAS has leached from these products into some water sources. The presence of PFAS in a public water supply is the result of pollution and not action taken by water suppliers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends PFAS concentrations in drinking water should not exceed 70 parts per trillion in the case of two PFAS compounds: PFOA and PFOS; however, many states are adopting stricter standards. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) recently set a new maximum limit of 20 nanograms per liter (equal to 20 parts per trillion) for the sum of six PFAS compounds. These six PFAS compounds are referred to as the “PFAS6”.
Recent advances in laboratory testing now enable us to test for PFAS compounds present in smaller amounts. Previously, water departments tested for PFAS measuring in parts per billion but now testing can identify PFAS in much smaller quantities, parts per trillion; however, these test results do not tell us when the PFAS entered a water source or from where
In 2010 the Brewster Water Department took part in the Silent Spring Institute Drinking Water Study to test for a wide range of organic wastewater compounds (OWCs) including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, hormones, herbicides, organophosphate flame retardants, and perfluorinated chemicals. Of the 88 OWC’s screened for none was detected. The tests showed no apparent impact from wastewater contamination.
At the direction of MA DEP the Brewster Water Department will be conducting PFAS testing in April 2021. We are committed to keeping our consumers and the community informed and will continue to do so as this matter progresses.