PFASs found in some Massachusetts schools

Significant amounts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—toxic chemicals known as PFASs—have been found in the drinking water of some schools in Massachusetts.

High levels of the chemicals turned up in schools in Stow and several other communities after targeted testing by the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to a September 9, 2019 Boston Globe article. Now some experts are calling for water to be tested in communities across the state.

PFASs are man-made chemicals used in products ranging from carpets to nonstick cookware to pizza boxes to firefighting foams. Known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they persist for years in the environment and in people’s bodies, PFASs have been linked with serious health problems such as cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.

Experts quoted in the article said they fear that many towns may have dangerously high levels of PFASs in their water. More than half of the state’s municipalities have not yet had their water tested. Elsie Sunderland, professor of environmental science and engineering in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said, “I would suggest, based on these results, that parents be proactive in requesting testing in other schools.”

Read the Boston Globe article: ‘Forever chemicals’ now found in state schools