Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been making headlines in Massachusetts this year. Several towns across the state have reported high levels of PFAS in drinking water, and a study on six Cape Cod watersheds recently revealed widespread PFAS contamination. As research regarding the damaging effects of PFAS continues to grow and public interest surrounding PFAS contamination increases, several bills and regulations have been proposed or are already underway in Massachusetts.
In September 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection set drinking water standards (MCL) of 20 ppt for 6 PFAS compounds, which applies to most public water systems.The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also requires quarterly monitoring of the 6 compounds as well as 11 currently unregulated PFAS.
A PFAS task force was proposed during the previous legislative session and is currently being assembled. The goals of the task force are to investigate the dangers of PFAS contamination, pinpoint exposure pathways, evaluate options for environmental remediation, and identify data gaps where more research is needed. This is a huge step forward for addressing the harmful effects of PFAS and protecting human health, as well as the health of our oceans.
In addition to the Task Force, there are several bills related to PFAS contamination under current legislative review. This includes a ban on PFAS in food packaging, restricting the use of PFAS in consumer products like carpets and hygiene products, and reducing certain PFAS in firefighting protective equipment. The Task Force will likely take on many of these issues, but the bills demonstrate widespread support for taking action among Massachusetts legislators.
Although human health and safety are at the forefront of these efforts, the measures taken by advocacy groups and the government will inevitably improve conditions for marine ecosystems. Seaside Sustainability advocates for a broad approach to managing PFAS– a comprehensive ban on this class of chemicals will ensure the health of our oceans and marine life. After all, oceans are considered to be the final destination for PFAS.
Massachusetts is making advances towards minimizing the impact of PFAS, but efforts may stall without the support of constituents. You can help to move the process forward by contacting your local representatives and asking them to consider supporting or cosponsoring new or existing PFAS legislation. You can also reach out to the PFAS Task Force and request that they keep our oceans in mind as they begin their investigation.
We encourage you to reach out to your representatives about this topic! We suggest further researching PFAS contamination, its effect on your area and local ecosystems, and existing efforts of your representatives before reaching out to them.