Read full article by Cynthia McCormick (Cape Cod Times)
“BARNSTABLE — Preliminary results of a study of private wells on Cape Cod found that nearly half of the water samples had detectable levels of emerging contaminants known as PFAS.
The study found that about 46% of 101 private wells tested in 12 Cape towns had at least one PFAS chemical…
But only 3% of the wells had PFAS levels that exceeded a new, stricter groundwater standard proposed by the state that would limit PFAS to 20 parts per trillion for six chemicals.
The study was done by the STEEP (Sources, Transport, Exposure and Effects of PFAS) Superfund Research Program at the University of Rhode Island in collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the state Department of Environmental Health and Silent Spring Institute.
‘To some degree, the results were what we expected,’ said Laurel Schaider of the Newton-based Silent Spring Institute, who is co-leading the study with Alyson McCann at the university…
‘We didn’t just focus on one community,’ McCann said. ‘We really traveled throughout the Cape.’
Sampling took place in August, September, November and December of last year, McCann said.
By the end of the five-year project, STEEP expects to have sample water from 250 private wells, scientists said. Another round of well testing will probably take place this winter, they said…
The good news for Cape Codders was that the vast majority of private wells already tested in the STEEP study met the proposed, stricter state guidelines for PFAS exposure levels, Messerlian said.
PFAS chemicals have been associated with kidney, prostate and other cancers and a higher risk of diabetes, obesity and thyroid disorders.
Absorbed along with amniotic fluid and breast milk, the man-made chemicals are believed to be especially dangerous for infants in utero and young children.
Since 2015, pregnant women and nursing mothers have twice been warned via public health advisories against consuming water from the Hyannis water supply due to elevated levels of PFAS.
The Hyannis Water System has since installed filtration devices. In August, work began on a new $12 million water filtration building at the Maher Water Treatment Plant off Old Yarmouth Road…
For decades, PFAS chemicals have been ‘a part of everyone’s daily life,’ said Cheryl Osimo of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, which along with the Sierra Club Cape Cod Group is a community partner in the STEEP study…
STEEP scientists are providing participants in the Cape private well water study with a detailed report on what was found in the water sampling and ways they can protect themselves from PFAS exposure. Those include using activated carbon filters under the sink and in filtered pitchers.
Reverse osmosis systems also seem to work, but they are more expensive and produce waste water, Schaider said.
Wednesday’s presentation in Barnstable was repeated in the evening at the Yarmouth Senior Center.”