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Clean up the mess

Massachusetts has followed suit with many state around the country and has issued new standards for toxic compounds in drinking water.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively called PFAS, have turned up in public water supplies and private wells around the U.S., and there is growing evidence that long-term exposure can lead to cancer and low infant birth weights, reports state.

The chemicals have been found in 28 of 37 municipal water systems that provided test results to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, officials said. Twelve of those exceeded the proposed standards. The chemicals are used to make products water and stain resistant, including carpets, clothing, furniture and cookware. They have earned the nickname “forever chemicals” because they never fully break down.

Under Massachusetts’ new regulations, polluters must clean up contaminated soil and groundwater if the total concentration of six chemicals in PFAS reaches 20 parts per trillion, The Boston Globe reported. The new standards are slated to go into effect Dec. 27.

Regulators announced the same limit for drinking water, but those rules could still be revised. Those proposed regulations would require all public water systems to test for high PFAS concentrations and act to remove the contamination.

In New Hampshire, a judge last month granted a temporary injunction requested by 3M and several others who opposed the state’s new standards that went into effect in October.

Clearly, PFAS contamination is a major problem throughout the country. State DEPs and the U.S. EPA must draw a line in the sand and force regulations that will clean up this mess, which has been brewing for decades. Far too much damage already has been done.