Massachusetts poised to limit ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs—a group of toxic chemicals linked with health issues such as cancer, immune system problems, and thyroid disease—will likely be subject to new regulations in Massachusetts in 2020.

In mid-December, the commonwealth of Massachusetts proposed new draft rules that would limit, collectively, six common types of PFASs to 20 parts per trillion in public drinking water supplies.

PFASs are known as “forever chemicals” because they remain for many years in soil, water, and in human bodies. They’re used in products ranging from nonstick cookware to waterproof clothing to takeout boxes to firefighting foams.

In a December 17, 2019 WGBH News story, the proposed rules were discussed by public officials and health experts, including Elsie Sunderland, professor of environmental science and engineering in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“It’s a great step forward compared to what we had, which was nothing,” Sunderland said of the proposed standards. She added that, eventually, she would like to see Massachusetts drinking water tested for all 4,700 types of PFASs.

Listen to or read the WGBH story: Proposed Standards On Toxic Chemicals In Drinking Water Will Require Local Testing, Possibly Costly Fixes

Learn more

Understanding the risks of ‘forever chemicals’ (Harvard Chan School news)