‘Forever chemicals’ widespread in Mass. surface and ground water, says new report

The water level is low on the banks of the Cambridge Reservoir looking south from Trapelo Road in Lincoln, as seen on July 26

The water level is low on the banks of the Cambridge Reservoir looking south from Trapelo Road in Lincoln, as seen on July 26. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A new analysis of Massachusetts public water systems by the Sierra Club finds that 70% of communities have detectable levels of the six most dangerous PFAS chemicals in their ground and surface waters. When looking at a wider range of PFAS chemicals, 91% of communities have detectable amounts in at least one of their drinking water sources.

The data does not reflect treated drinking water, and so does not indicate a direct threat to public health.

“This isn’t a study of drinking water exposure to people, so much as a study that’s looking at the underlying contamination from which we’re having to source our drinking water,” says Clint Richmond, the Toxics Policy Lead at the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “What’s shocking is that these drinking water sources are mostly underground — some are surface, but mostly this is water that’s deep underground.”

The new analysis of state data follows reports of PFAS contamination in Cape Cod ponds and many Massachusetts rivers, pointing to widespread contamination throughout state lakes, ponds, rivers and aquifers used as sources for drinking water.

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