Community Information and Data Regarding PFAS in Water in Stow, MA
As a unique advocate for private well owners, SafeWell has been testing private wells in Stow, MA, for Per- and Polyfluoroakyl Substances (PFAS) since early 2019.
The purpose of this informational page is to share the results of PFAS testing, as well as what is known about the prevalence of PFAS in well water in town. Our goal is to ensure residents are empowered with the knowledge on how to best protect their family's health and to ensure the highest water quality.
We have combined our data with the data provided by MassDEP as part of their PFAS source investigation in the center of town. This information has been shared with your local Massachusetts State Representative, Kate Hogan, the Stow Board of Health, and MassDEP.
Studies have linked very low levels of PFAS exposure in drinking water to health effects; including kidney and liver disease; immune, reproductive and developmental problems; high cholesterol; and certain cancers.
HEALTHY – The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization dedicated to protection of health and the environment, and their team of scientists, has set a drinking water health guideline of 1 part per trillion (ppt) for each PFAS. This is the level for which no known health risks exist. To learn more about EWG and their health guidelines and scientific references, click the link: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/reviewed-pfcs.php
SAFE with RISKS –HIGHER RISK --MassDEP has proposed a limit of 20 ppt applicable to the SUM of the concentrations of six PFAS analytes: PFBS, PFHpA, PFHxS, PFNA, PFOS & PFOA. This proposed limit is a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) allowed in Public Water Systems (PWS) before action is necessary.
In determining the MCL, MassDEP takes two factors into consideration: health impacts and the cost of treatment solutions for public water systems throughout Massachusetts. The reason there is health risk allowed is because the cost to treat PFAS contaminants in huge public water quantities can be extremely expensive. Treating PFAS in private wells is dramatically different than public water systems.
Neither EPA or MassDEP has established a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) – the level at which NO known health risks exist – for any individual or combination of PFAS.
To learn more about how MassDEP sets their PFAS standard, please click the link: https://www.mass.gov/lists/development-of-a-pfas-drinking-water-standard-mcl
UNHEALTHY - To provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS, from drinking water, EPA has established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion. This is not an MCL or MCLG, this is just part of an action plan that could take as long as 10 years to set the levels by the EPA for PFAS. It has been recommended by the EPA that States move forward without EPA guidance. MassDEP has adopted EPA’s health advisory level. To learn more, click the link: https://www.epa.gov/pfas
Stow PFAS Testing Data
(SafeWell & MassDEP)
The combined statistics are below. This chart will be continuously updated as more data becomes available.
These are the opinions of SafeWell Corporation with the existing data aggregated by our Research Dept.
We reserve the right to modify these opinions as more data becomes available.
Elevated levels of PFAS have been detected in groundwater in a number of areas in Stow – “areas of concern.” There are several other areas with outlier data points, which, until we have additional data, it is hard to identify these as areas of concern.
Area around Old Fire Station and Center and Hale Schools – Definitely an area of concern, extremely high levels of PFAS have been identified in this area and MassDEP is conducting an investigation into possible sources of the contamination. It is critical that testing be continued in this area, to better profile the contaminants. Homeowners within a mile of intersection of Rt117 and Rt62 should seriously consider having their well water tested.
Homes North-West of the Schools – We have grouped these test sites together with the testing completed around the school. Until we have additional data points we cannot rule out these may be from the same source. Several data points in the northwest corner of Stow have tested positive for PFAS and have installed treatment in some of these homes.
Fire Academy Area – The Massachusetts Fire Academy has tested extremely high for PFAS and the Academy is working with MassDEP on an action plan for cleaning up the site. Further testing is needed for private wells in this area, but from our initial private well tests it does not look like the PFAS in groundwater is travelling due north
Maple St Area – With only a few data points in this area there is no conclusive evidence this is an area of concern. However, there are 4 data points in this area and 3 of the 4 have tested positive for PFAS. It would be extremely helpful if residences in this area seriously considered testing.
Stow PFAS Testing Town-wide Data Map
(SafeWell and MassDEP)