Wayland PFAS

The Water Division of Wayland, MA, has confirmed elevated levels of PFAS6 in the drinking water during initial and confirmatory monitoring starting in January 2021.

Elevated levels of Per- and Polyfluoroakyl Substances (PFAS) have been detected in a number of public water wells which supply Wayland their drinking water.

This webpage was created to provide Wayland residents who have been notified that PFAS have been detected in their drinking water with a complete and simplified understanding of the risks and options for solutions to protect your family’s health from the harmful effects of ingestion.

SafeWell and its affiliates are not endorsed or contracted by the Town of Wayland. Our healthy water initiative is independent from the town.

What are the health risks?
PFAS either are, or degrade to, persistent chemicals that accumulate in humans, animals and the environment. This adds to the total burden of chemicals to which people are exposed and increases the risk of health impacts. Of the relatively few well-studied PFAS, most are considered moderately to highly toxic, particularly for children’s development. People most at risk of adverse health impacts are those exposed to high levels of PFAS, and vulnerable population groups, such as children and the elderly. The figure below summarizes current knowledge of the health impacts of PFAS.
Effects of PFAS exposure on human health
Sources: US National Toxicology Program, (2016); C8 Health Project Reports, (2012); WHO IARC, (2017); Barry et al., (2013); Fenton et al., (2009); and White et al., (2011).
PFAS Health Risk Scale

In November, 2020 MassDEP rolled out a Private Well PFAS Sampling Program which defined the action levels based on concentrations of PFAS6 (combined totals of 6 specific PFAS substances). The following is a scale which can be used to interpret the action levels:

PFAS Health Risk Scale
This scale will now be used to determine the necessary action to be taken in the roll-out of a PFAS Remediation Program.
Protecting your family
Ingest Inhale Absorb

Even before the notification from your Public Water System, PFAS has been entering your home, so you and your family are not protected from its harmful effects.

The first step should be to stop drinking water from your faucets, or using ice from your ice maker in your freezer, and stop using the water for cooking. This at least stops the PFAS from entering and accumulating in your body.

You then have a choice to make:

  1. Rely on bottled water for 3-5 years while the water PWS implements a solution
  2. Install a home filtration system
Bottled Water

Wayland is currently offering resident households up to two (2) cases of water per week, for pickup at the Wayland Transfer Station on Wednesdays and Sundays, or at the Public Safety Building, in case of emergency. You then have to carry your water into your home and distribute it to locations around your house where drinking water is used.

Or a second option is to purchase bottled water when you are at a store. The only headache is you need check out with the water, load it in your car and lug it into your home.

Bottled Water and the Environment

According to Harvard University’s Office of Sustainability:

  • The entire life cycle of bottled water uses fossil fuels, contributes to global warming, and causes pollution.
  • More than 17 million barrels of oil are required to produce enough plastic water bottles to meet America’s annual demand for bottled water. ("Bottled Water: Pouring Resources Down the Drain," Earth-policy.org)
  • According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. ("Bottled Water: Pouring Resources Down the Drain," Earth-policy.org)

If your household consumes two cases of bottled water a week (assuming 48 individual bottles) for a year, you will have added nearly 2,500 empty plastic bottles to your waste or recycling stream.

 Cost of Bottled Water

If you are purchasing bottled water from the store you can expect to pay on average $1.22 per gallon for bottled water.

Let’s assume that a family of 4 consumes 4 x 80 ounces = 2.5 gallons of water a day or 912.5 gallons per year. This means that the cost for bottled water for a whole year is:
912.5 bottled water gallons x $1.22 USD/gallon = $1,113.25 USD
Home Filtration

When thinking about home filtration we first need to step back and think about the link between our drinking water and our family’s health. We like to refer to this as the “Water Health Connection.”

Consideration must be taken for all contaminants which might be affecting our health — not just PFAS. Once water is treated to meet legal contaminant limits, it needs to be loaded with disinfectants — typically Chlorine and/or Ammonia — so it can make it safely to your home through an extensive and degrading infrastructure of pipes and pumps. This is a critical step in keeping you protected from bacteria, but the downside is that the added Chlorine and Ammonia react with natural organic material in the water and form disinfection byproducts — Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic Acids. Many of these disinfection byproducts are known carcinogens and pose a significant health risk.

When considering how to best protect your family from harmful contaminants like PFAS, and thinking about a home treatment system, there may also be many more health benefits that a home water treatment system can provide besides just removing PFAS.

Whole House vs. Point-of-Use Treatment
Point of Entry water treatment systems vs. Point of Use Treatment
There are two categories of home water treatment systems:

Whole house treatment Point-of-Entry Systems (POE) – Installed where your water enters your home and treats all the water used in your house.

Point-of-Use (POU) Treatment Systems – Usually installed under your sink and only treats at one location in the home.

Point-of-Entry Treatment Systems

POE systems provide the maximum protection for your home because it is treating all of your incoming water from the Public Water System. There is nothing good about PFAS but on the plus side it is easy to treat PFAS with activated carbon.

The advantage of using carbon to remove PFAS is it also removes all the nasty disinfection byproducts that are in your water accumulating in your body. Have you ever gone to a hotel, or a friend's house, or maybe your house and you can smell chlorine in the water? That chlorine and its disinfection byproducts are also harming your body. A person showering in public water absorbs 8 times more disinfection byproducts through their lungs than a glass of chlorinated water. Chlorine is volatile, so it is easily vaporized and absorbed through your lungs.

Point-of-Use Treatment Systems

POU systems used to treat PFAS are usually installed under kitchen sink and have a separate faucet which delivers water only to that faucet and maybe your refrigerator for ice.

There are two types of POU systems to consider:

  1. Reverse Osmosis Systems (RO)
  2. Carbon Block Filtration System
Reverse Osmosis Systems (RO)

Reverse osmosis systems are a comprehensive filtration system which remove any molecule larger than water (H2O), including municipal water treatment byproducts, PFAS, lead, sodium and other harmful contaminants.

This is the same technology that bottled water companies like Aquafina and Dasani use in their bottling plants only on a much smaller scale.

This unique technology leverages your home water pressure to push water through a membrane which captures contaminants and lets the water molecules pass through to a separate water faucet. Additional carbon and sediment filters are used to screen out particles prior to the water entering the membrane. Once through the membrane a final carbon filter is used to remove any foul tastes and odors. RO systems are compact, easy to maintain, and are typically installed at the kitchen sink.

Carbon Block Under Sink Filtration

A dual-stage carbon block filtration system is a cost-effective solution for removing PFAS from your drinking water. Carbon block cartridges are granular activated carbon which has been compressed under high heat and pressure to form a carbon block. This block will remove any molecule larger than 0.2 microns, including municipal water treatment byproducts, PFAS and other harmful contaminants.

These treatment systems should be installed with a volume meter to notify you when the filters should be changed. Unlike RO systems, the carbon block system does not backwash the filters so maintenance is key to the performance of the system.

These filters install under the sink and have a separate faucet which is usually mounted next to your kitchen faucet.

Taking Action

To recap, you have a number of choices now that you know there are PFAS in your drinking water.

  1. Wait or do nothing – You can wait on the water department to implement a solution, but even then, drinking water delivered to your home will always have risks. The health impacts of even low levels of PFAS in your body are not good. As we continue to learn from the health studies on the harmful effects of PFAS on our bodies we are going to see a growing list of impacts over time.
  2. Bottled Water – An advantage of using bottled water is that you are protecting your body from the health impacts of PFAS. One downside is the inconvenience - waste of your time and energy - of purchasing and lugging bottled water.
  3. Point-of-Use Water Treatment – There are two choices of point-of-use systems to consider: an RO System or a Carbon Block system. Both will be effective in removing PFAS from your drinking water. A big added benefit is not only are these systems removing PFAS, but they are also removing harmful disinfectants and other contaminants from your drinking water. One downside is that healthy drinking water is only at available at your kitchen sink and not at all of your other faucets and showers in your home.
  4. Point-of-Entry Water Treatment - A POE system provides complete protection from PFAS throughout your home. All of your bathroom faucets, and your kitchen sink would be producing healthy water. A POE system would also be removing chlorine disinfection byproducts from your shower. The system would be located in your basement out of sight, but in your mind you would know you are protecting your family from the harmful health effects of PFAS.

So these are your choices for dealing with PFAS in your water supply. The important thing is you have taken the first step in educating yourself on PFAS and its potential harmful effects on your health. Keep in mind that not only are PFAS the "forever chemicals," we might even consider them the "everywhere chemicals;" PFAS have been discovered in lots of things besides drinking water and reducing the amount of PFAS which accumulates in your body forever is going to be vital to the quality of life you live. Please consider these options carefully and choose the best one to protect your family.

Why SafeWell?

SafeWell is a leading expert in the science, testing and remediation of PFAS from drinking water. We assist residents and towns which have PFAS challenges and work with  homeowners who use public water, town administrators, well owners, and companies struggling with the removal of PFAS from their drinking water. We are involved with many surrounding towns: (Acton, Stow, Hudson, Natick) who are struggling with PFAS issues. Our approach is always the same: inform to empower so homeowners have options to protect their family’s health. SafeWell’s mission is to make sure every tap in America has healthy water. So, we are not going to let PFAS stand in the way of our mission!

Contact us today to speak with a PFAS Specialist who can answer any of your questions.

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