Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants

Westfield, Massachusetts

Suspected contamination source: Firefighting foam used at Barnes Air National Guard Base (Ashworth, 2017)

barnesaquifer-mapjpg-25d1b4db2da4f99b
A map of the Barnes Aquifer, which provides drinking water for Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, and Southampton. (Courtesy Barnes Aquifer Protection Advisory Committee)

The U.S. National Guard is suspected of contaminating private and public wells with PFAS. The chemicals allegedly came from firefighting foam used at Barnes Regional Airport and the Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing.

Elevated levels of PFOA and PFOS were initially found during EPA’s Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) testing, however the levels detected were within EPA’s health advisory levels (at the time were 400 parts per trillion for PFOA 200 parts per trillion for PFOS). When the EPA lowered its advisory levels in 2016 to 70ppt combined PFOA/PFOS,  the town released a drinking water health advisory.

Barnes Airport is situated on top of the Barnes Aquifer, where the shut down wells received their water.

Additional Resources

Health Advisory
Health Advisory Update
2016 well testing results
Community group- Westfield Residents Advocating For Themselves (WRAFT)

Media Coverage:

Full citations are available on the second page of the full contamination site tracker. We ask for your additions, changes, questions and comments to be sent to pfasproject@gmail.com.

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