Read the full article by David Abel (Boston Globe)

“After announcing that the town’s water supply contained elevated levels of the toxic chemicals known as PFAS, selectmen at a recent virtual meeting in Pepperell turned to another thorny subject: Should the town try to opt out of state-mandated aerial and roadside spraying of pesticides?

The issues, in significant ways, were connected.

To reduce the spread of eastern equine encephalitis and other mosquito-borne diseases, the state has sprayed millions of acres in recent years with a pesticide found to contain significant amounts of PFAS. The PFAS leached into the pesticide from its packaging.

‘Not only is this bad for human health and the environment, for the long-term effects it causes, but [the pesticides] can also pose an immediate danger to vulnerable populations, including children with chronic health problems,’ Renee D’Argento, chair of Pepperell’s Board of Health, told selectmen.

Soon afterward, selectmen in this town along the New Hampshire border voted to make Pepperell one of at least 13 municipalities in Massachusetts to take advantage of a new law that allows communities to request the state’s permission to forgo pesticide spraying.

Over the years, residents throughout the state have complained about the potential health risks of widespread spraying of pesticides, especially from the air, and their concerns have only intensified as more communities have found elevated levels of PFAS in their drinking water.

Environmental advocates fear the broad dispersal of the pesticide, and the large amounts used over the years, may have resulted in the chemicals leaching into groundwater…”