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PFAS-REACH team news

Release of the PFAS Sites and Community Resources Map

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A new online map launched this week brings together information about known and suspected PFAS contamination sites across the United States with resources for affected communities and information about state action. This unique and interactive tool, called the PFAS Sites and Community Resources Map, was developed by the PFAS Project Lab at Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Institute (SSEHRI), Silent Spring Institute, and the PFAS-REACH team. This map is a new and improved version of the Community Resources map previously available on the PFAS Exchange website.

The PFAS Sites and Community Resources Map identifies 1,781 known sites of PFAS contamination based on the PFAS Project Lab’s PFAS Contamination Site Database. Additionally, we have identified 57,806 sites that are suspected of being contaminated, including current and former military sites, airports required to use PFAS-containing firefighting foam, industrial facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and railroad fire incidents. Read more…

Exposed to Contaminated Water at Pease? Health Officials Urge Signing Up for Health Study

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Health officials are hosting an event at the Pease Tradeport food court Tuesday to help people to enroll in the ongoing Pease Health Study for people exposed to PFAS in drinking water at the former Pease Air Force Base.

Staff will be on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the 14 Manchester Square food court in Portsmouth to ‘screen people for eligibility, schedule appointments and answer questions from the community,’ according to a press release sent out by The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the agencies conducting the study. Read more…

PFAS Testing of Wells in Truro and Wellfleet Set to Begin

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Testing for the presence of PFAS — compounds linked to a broad array of harmful health effects — is set to begin in Wellfleet and Truro. The testing is part of a program being offered by the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Massachusetts began to regulate PFAS only last fall.

The DEP program focuses on 84 communities where more than 60 percent of residents are served by private wells. That’s because PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been found to seep into soils, groundwater, and surface water.

Known as “forever chemicals” because they never completely degrade, these compounds are manmade and date back to the 1950s. They are present in some of the foams firefighters use to put out flammable liquid fires, in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, and many other everyday items. Read more…

Are we being kept safe from ‘forever chemicals’ injected into fracking sites?

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Not willing to rest their laurels on the theft of the future, the fossil fuel industry is now salting the earth with forever chemicals.

In a bombshell exposé from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the New York Times last week it was revealed that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were readily used at fracking sites across the US.

PFAS never break down, a disconcerting fact that has led many to call them “forever chemicals”. Such durability comes with surprising mobility as these chemicals have proven preternaturally gifted at gliding through geological and geographic borders with ease. Oh, and they are toxic.

None of these worrisome properties proved sufficient to dissuade the fossil fuel industry from injecting PFAS into at least 1,200 fracking wells in the United States, including in states where wastewater from oil and gas operations is routinely sprayed on roads and farms. Read more…

Northeastern University Expert Recommends State Task Force Test Blood For Chemical Contaminant PFAS

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Offering blood testing for people in areas exposed to PFAS, additional funds for statewide research, education, and surveillance, and passing laws restricting the use of certain firefighting foam and food packaging were all part of a set of recommendations a top academic expert offered this week to a state task force investigating the impact of the chemicals in Massachusetts.

The advice, offered by Northeastern University Social Science Director Environmental Health Research Institute Director Dr. Phil Brown, comes as state legislators and stakeholders take a deep dive into the effect of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, on public health and the environment.

During a Tuesday morning hearing, members of the PFAS Interagency Task Force — co-chaired by Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Kate Hogan — focused on water and ground contamination ahead of issuing a report by Dec. 31. Read more…

Improved medical screening in PFAS-impacted communities to identify early disease

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When people learn they are exposed to toxic chemicals, they wonder what it means for their health and often want to take protective action.

We’ve heard this in our conversations with residents of PFAS-affected communities, and in their public talks—calls for medical screening to learn about potential effects on their own and their families’ health. However, people exposed to PFAS often face significant hurdles in getting screened for health effects from the exposure. And that needs to change.

PFAS compounds (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a class of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals that are in the drinking water of an estimated 200 million U.S. residents. PFAS are especially concerning because, in the words of former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Dr. Linda Birnbaum, they impact “development and reproduction and pretty much almost every system that you can think of.” Read more…

‘Forever chemicals’ detected in Chatham drinking water wells

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CHATHAM –  After a 2018 preliminary study by the University of Rhode Island, Harvard, the state Department of Public Health and Silent Spring showed that nearly half of 101 private wells tested on Cape Cod had detectable levels of potentially cancer-causing PFAS chemicals, it seemed only a matter of time before Cape towns would be finding these “forever chemicals” in their municipal drinking water supply.

Chatham was already facing water use restrictions due to a dry winter when testing this April revealed detectable levels of PFAS in three of its nine public drinking water wells. In one of those wells, one sample showed levels more than twice the actionable level stipulated by the state. That well was immediately shut down, Select Board Chair Peter Cocolis said Wednesday. Read more…

Will the U.S. Ban PFAS in Food Packaging?

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Since they were developed around the middle of last century, PFAS have been hailed by multiple industries as miracle chemicals. Not only could they stop rain from soaking through fabric, but they could also prevent eggs from sticking to pans and repel grease that would otherwise seep through fast food wrappers.

In short, they have made eating more convenient, but a growing body of science suggests that PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are toxic and linked to serious health problems, and chemical companies have hidden internal science showing their dangers.

In recent years, testing has found the chemicals in a range of foods, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to allow companies to use PFAS in food packaging, cookware, and processing equipment. Read more…

Study Looking At PFAS In Drinking Water Begins In Hyannis This Summer

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Researchers are beginning a five-year, multi-state study to look at the long-term health effects of the toxic chemicals known as PFAS in drinking water. In Massachusetts, the study will focus on Hyannis and Ayer — two communities where public drinking water supplies were contaminated by firefighting foams used at nearby fire training areas.

Barnstable town manager Mark Ells, speaking at a webinar to announce the study, noted that Hyannis has PFAS-free drinking water after the town spent millions of dollars to install a filtration system. But, he added, ”the concern regarding these emerging contaminants is ever-present.” Read more…

Did you live in Hyannis after 2006? PFAS researchers need your help

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Laurel Schaider drinks Hyannis’ tap water.

“Mostly in coffee,” she said with a laugh.

It’s a small but important sign that the Silent Spring Institute research scientist is confident in the work Barnstable town officials have done to cut the amount of dangerous chemicals within the municipal water supply.

But before town officials recognized the problem more than five years ago, people across Hyannis were drinking the contaminated water. Read more…