PFAS Information & Results

What are PFAS?


According to EPA, Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.


PFAS can be found in:

  • Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
  • Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
  • Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
  • Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
  • Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.

Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase outs including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics. 

The DEP adds “Because these chemicals have been used in many consumer products, most people have been exposed to them. While consumer products and food are the largest source of exposure to these chemicals for most people, drinking water can be an additional source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies.”

NEW PFAS REGULATIONS IN DRINKING WATER


On October 2, 2020 the DEP amended Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations, and established a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 0.000020 milligrams per liter (mg/l) or 20 ng/l (also called parts per trillion or ppt) for the sum of six PFAS compounds (PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, PFNA, PFHpA and PFDA), known as PFAS6. The regulations detail the sampling requirements and corrective actions that a Public Water System must take when the MCL is exceeded, as well as the provisions for public education and notice of exceedances so that communities can be educated and proactive in protecting their drinking water quality.

To download the latest Masachusetts Drinking Water PFAS Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) Amendments, click here.  

For a Quick Reference Guide on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Drinking Water Regulations, click here.

A list of companies that voluntarily tested their water for PFAS and shared the results can be found on MassDEP’s website at: https://www.mass.gov/doc/list-of-bottlers-october-7-2021