On Dec. 13, the Baker-Polito administration and the Department of Environmental Protection announced their intent to file two regulations related to PFAS, a class of manmade chemical compounds considered hazardous to public and environmental health.

While many chemicals have been identified as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, the MassDEP regulations pertain to six targeted PFAS compounds.

The first regulation, filed by MassDEP, mandates cleanup by parties found responsible for groundwater contamination of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) or more of the sum of the six PFAS compounds. The cleanup rule also establishes PFAS limits specifically for soil contamination. Massachusetts is one of only a few states that have established formal PFAS cleanup standards.

The second regulation is a draft rule that would establish a maximum contaminant level for drinking water at the same 20 ppt of the sum of the six PFAS compounds. In a press release, the MassDEP notes that the proposed maximum contaminant level for drinking water “covers a larger subgroup of compounds than any other state and provides a greater deal of protection, particularly for sensitive subgroups.”

The draft rule would also establish requirements for public water suppliers to test for the PFAS compounds and to take corrective action if the maximum contaminant level is exceeded.

According to reporting by the Boston Globe, to date PFAS contamination has been detected in 28 of 37 municipal water systems that have provided test results to the MassDEP; of the 28 systems, 12 had contamination levels in excess of the proposed 20 ppt.

The MassDEP will be holding public hearings on the draft regulations as follows:
• Jan. 23, 1 p.m., MassDEP Western Regional Office, Springfield
• Jan. 24, 10 a.m., MassDEP Headquarters, Boston
• Jan. 28, 10 a.m., MassDEP Southeast Regional Office, Lakeville
• Jan. 29, 1 p.m., MassDEP Northeast Regional Office, Wilmington
• Jan. 31, 10 a.m., MassDEP Central Regional Office, Worcester

Public comments on the draft regulations will be accepted by email to program.director-dwp@mass.gov through Feb. 28.

A fiscal 2019 closeout budget passed by the House and Senate in mid-December included a $10.65 million transfer to the Clean Water Trust to assist in the remediation of PFAS contamination in local water systems and $9.05 million for the State Revolving Fund program to help finance improvements to local water systems. Another $4.2 million was appropriated to help cities and towns test for local drinking water contamination related to PFAS.

PFAS, known as “forever chemicals,” are a family of chemicals used since the 1950s to manufacture stain-resistant, water-resistant, and non-stick products. PFAS are widely used in common consumer products as coatings, on food packaging, outdoor clothing, carpets, leather goods, ski and snowboard waxes, and more. The chemicals are also found in firefighting foam and other fire retardants, and have been detected in water and soil sources at or near several military bases and airports in Massachusetts.

For more information about PFAS, visit www.mass.gov/info-details/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas or www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas.

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