Hogan: Hudson water treatment system puts town at ‘forefront’ of PFAS mitigation

Nov. 9, 2016, Boston - Police Officers watch from the steps and balconies of the Massachusetts State House as Bostonians peacefully protest Trump's election. Photo by J. Graham Pearsall/BU News Service

By Katherine Hapgood
Boston University Statehouse Program

BOSTON — A new water treatment system anticipated to come online in Hudson by the end of May will put the town at the “forefront” of efforts to regulate and mitigate levels of PFAS, according to state Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, co-chair of the state’s PFAS Interagency Task Force.

PFAS chemicals are widely used in consumer products like food packaging, clothing and carpeting, as well as firefighting foams and many others. Various studies have indicated that exposure to high enough PFAS levels can cause developmental effects and hormonal and immune system issues, and has been linked to higher cancer risk, according to the PFAS Interagency Task Force’s website.

The task force’s final report, issued last week, is a “culmination of years of work,” said state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro. It features input from nine public hearings in 2021 that allowed for testimony “from legislators, from agency officials, from PFAS experts, and other stakeholders to discuss the extent of cost of PFAS contamination in water supplies, health and environmental effects, source of contamination, and consider recommendations for regulating and mitigating PFAS in Massachusetts.”

Since January 2019, Hudson has worked to regulate PFAS levels of more than 70 parts per trillion in its water, said Eric Ryder, director of the town’s Department of Public Works.

After discovering that the high PFAS levels originated from the Cranberry Bog well, Hudson “shut off the contaminated well” and began working with the state Department of Environmental Protection to fix the issue, Ryder said.

After disconnecting the well, PFAS levels dropped below 70 parts per trillion, the state health advisory amount at the time. Current PFAS ratings in Hudson are “non-detect,” meaning these “forever chemicals” are no longer traceable in the water supply.

At the time, “this was such a new thing and there were a lot of unknowns” and “there was public concern,” said Ryder. “Across the country, other states have dropped their regulatory requirements down to the 20 ppt and some states are even lower,” he said.

Hogan said the federal government “has not yet established an enforceable standard for PFAS in drinking water,” meaning Massachusetts and Hudson are at the “forefront” of PFAS regulation and mitigation.

The task force’s recommendations helped the Hudson DEP work with other communities to potentially get grants and state revolving funding, Ryder said. In fact, Hudson’s new PFAS treatment plan was approved for such funding through the DEP.

The new Hudson treatment system, which will replace a temporary system that has been working to remove PFAS since July 2019, is “anticipated to be online by the end of May,” Ryder said.  

This article originally appeared in MetroWest Daily News.

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