Massachusetts regulators issue new standards for toxins

December 15, 2019 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts state regulators have issued new standards for toxic compounds in drinking water.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively called PFAS, have turned up in public water supplies and private wells around the country, and there is growing evidence that long-term exposure can lead to cancer and low infant birth weights.

The chemicals have been found in 28 of 37 municipal water systems that have provided test results to the state Department of Environmental Protection, officials said this week. Twelve of those exceeded the proposed standards. The chemicals are used to make products water and stain resistant, including carpets, clothing, furniture and cookware. They have earned the nickname “forever chemicals” because they never fully break down.


Under Massachusetts’ new regulations, polluters must clean up contaminated soil and groundwater if the total concentration of six chemicals in PFAS reaches 20 parts per trillion, The Boston Globe reported. The new standards are slated to go into effect Dec. 27.

Regulators announced the same limit for drinking water, but those rules could still be revised. Those proposed regulations would require all public water systems to test for high PFAS concentrations and act to remove the contamination.

Other New England states have also been looking at the issue. In New Hampshire, a judge last month granted a temporary injunction requested by 3M and several others who opposed the state’s new standards that went into effect in October.

The parties sued New Hampshire Department of Environmental Resources Commissioner Robert Scott in September, alleging the agency didn’t follow the appropriate process in approving the standard. The state denied wrongdoing.

The New Hampshire standard limits one chemical to a maximum of 12 parts per trillion and another to 15 parts per trillion, far lower than the 70 parts per trillion the Environmental Protection Agency has advised for the chemicals.

In Connecticut, a task force created by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont recently issued a series of policy recommendations concerning the toxic chemicals, including testing water supplies across the state, reducing their sources in the environment, and cleaning up known contamination.