Massachusetts moves forward to address drinking water contaminants

As part of Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition’s ongoing water quality campaign, the following comments were recently submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in regard to their proposed rule to regulate PFAS contaminants in the Commonwealth’s drinking water supplies.

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) applauds the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for adopting an enforceable standard for PFASs in groundwater at contaminated sites in order to protect drinking water quality. MBCC is also pleased to see that MassDEP has proposed a drinking water standard that is also enforceable and is stricter than the national lifetime health advisory put forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

MBCC continues to be deeply concerned about the serious health risks to Massachusetts residents from exposure to PFAS chemicals. We are encouraged by MassDEP’s approach for the proposed standard that includes the concentrations of PFOS, PFOA, and four additional PFAS compounds, as this approach recognizes the extreme persistence of PFAS compounds as a class. However, MBCC continues to be concerned that there are many more PFASs beyond these six compounds that also need to be addressed.

We know that scientists have determined that PFAS as a class of chemicals are both extremely persistent and mobile. It is because of these characteristics that MBCC urges MassDEP to consider additional approaches that will address PFAS as a class, in addition to this important first step of developing a standard to limit PFOS, PFOA, and other closely related compounds. Additionally, we know that scientists’ understanding of the effects of PFAS on the human body is continually evolving. With more and more information, scientists are discovering that there are health impacts at lower levels of exposure. Therefore, MBCC also urges MassDEP to be vigilant in making sure that its regulations and standards keep pace with emerging science.

MBCC believes that by casting as broad a net as possible when considering PFAS and ensuring that regulations reflect the most up-to-date research, the health of Massachusetts residents will be best protected.