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PFAS Testing in MWRA Drinking Water

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

Updated September 2020

You might have seen recent news reports about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (together abbreviated as PFAS). These are a class of human-made chemicals typically associated with manufacturing of non-stick coatings, water-proofing and stain-proofing treatments. They have also been associated with certain fire-fighting foams.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) set a standard of 20 parts per trillion on October 2, 2020 for the sum of these six PFAS compounds (called PFAS6)

  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)
  • Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
  • Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS)
  • Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA)
  • Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA)

While the new regulation’s testing requirements do not kick in until 2021, MWRA has already tested for the six regulated PFAS as well as a dozen other PFAS compounds, using extremely sensitive testing methods.  As expected given MWRA’s well-protected watersheds and reservoirs, no more than trace amounts were detected; the sum of the six regulated PFAS compounds was zero, below the new MassDEP standard of 20 ng/l.

If you live in a partially supplied MWRA water community, please contact your local water department for test results.

These compounds are persistent in the environment and have been used for decades in a number of everyday products. MWRA will continue to perform testing and closely monitor developments in the science around this issue.

MWRA tests the water supply each year for over 120 contaminants to ensure the water supplied is of the highest quality. For more information about PFAS and all other drinking water tests or if you have any questions about water quality, please visit MWRA's Water Testing page, which includes all of our annual and monthly test results, or contact us at 617-242-5323.

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Updated October 1, 2020

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