Read the full article by Chris Lisinski (WBUR)
“Massachusetts regulators may need to expand PFAS monitoring into waste disposal, landfill and the atmosphere amid concerns about potential health risks from the chemicals, the head of the state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday.
The most recent regulatory updates for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, targeted drinking water because it is already a ‘well-understood exposure pathway and an area where we could make an important, immediate impact,’ DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg told lawmakers and other officials.
Other states have broadened their focus, Suuberg said, adding that DEP is watching those efforts closely as it plans next steps to tackle the so-called ‘forever chemicals.’
‘We’re mindful of the fact that waste disposal facilities, landfills are areas we might need to be looking at,’ Suuberg said in response to a question about expanding monitoring efforts. ‘The list of areas that we could look at is daunting, but I would say probably you’re right — air is an area that all of us are going to need to take a look at.’
Amid what Suuberg called ‘growing attention’ about the presence of PFAS chemicals, a new intergovernmental task force kicked off its work Tuesday to analyze their impact in Massachusetts and craft recommended steps to limit contamination.
The man-made chemicals do not decompose entirely in the environment, and they are found in a range of products from firefighting foams to non-stick cookware to food packaging. They have also been found to leach from packaging into Anvil 10+10, a pesticide the state has used to combat mosquito-borne illnesses, creating thorny problems for some communities.
Experts caution that exposure to PFAS chemicals can cause health problems, particularly in those who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, and infants, Suuberg said.
During the task force’s first meeting, Suuberg recounted recent developments in government efforts to rein in PFAS contamination. A ‘turning point’ came in May 2016, Suuberg said, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updated its health advisory with a lower PFAS concentration threshold of 70 parts per trillion…”