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Posted on: April 6, 2021

Upcoming Town Drinking Water PFAS Sampling

gloved hand collecting water sample for testing

Upcoming Town Drinking Water PFAS Sampling - What is it? Should I be concerned?

The Town of Amherst Water Department, with funding and guidance from Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP), will be sampling the Town’s public drinking water sources for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in April, 2021. This sampling is mandatory under the state’s new PFAS regulations, and is meant to establish a baseline measurement for six (6) PFAS compounds.

What are PFAS?

PFAS compounds are a group of human-made chemicals that have been widely used in such products as water-resistant clothing, stain-resistant furniture and carpets, adhesives, non-stick cookware, paints and varnishes, and firefighting foam, beginning in the 1950s. PFAS are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because many of them resist breaking down in the environment, and bioaccumulate in organisms, including humans. Exposure to PFAS compounds has been linked to a number of health issues including specific types of cancer. 

Additional information on PFAS health risks, and the work being done in Massachusetts to identify PFAS contamination is available at the following MADEP PFAS website:

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas

Should I be concerned?

The Town’s public drinking water sources were previously sampled for some PFAS compounds in 2013 as part of a USEPA emerging contaminant sampling program. That sampling did not identify any PFAS concerns in Amherst’s drinking water. In addition, Amherst’s drinking water sources draw from relatively pristine watersheds that have not historically been impacted by industrial uses associated with PFAS contamination, such as, military bases, chemical plants, manufacturing plants in general, firefighting training facilities, and airports. Currently, there is no need to be concerned about the quality of Amherst’s drinking water in regard to PFAS.

Private Well Owners

If you are a private well owner in Amherst we recommend you read through the information on MADEP’s PFAS and private wells FAQ website at: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas-in-private-well-drinking-water-supplies-faq

Public Notification

If PFAS is detected in Amherst’s drinking water above the state’s maximum contaminant level, the public will be notified within thirty (30) days. All PFAS sampling results, whether above or below the maximum contaminant level, will be reported to Amherst residents in the Town’s Annual Water Quality Report (Consumer Confidence Report). 

If you have questions regarding PFAS and Amherst’s drinking water please contact the Amherst Department of Public Works at 413-259-3050 or publicworks@amherstma.gov


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