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Water Systems Are Exploring Solutions

In Massachusetts, your public water suppliers test for the presence of PFAS.  If the sum of 6 specific PFAS (PFAS6) are found at levels greater than 20 parts per trillion, the new state standard, water suppliers will act to reduce the levels.


Your water suppliers and their professional teams will work on solutions to fix the problem and address each community’s set of circumstances. The solutions will vary. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Why? Each public water supplier is unique. They have different water sources and treatment plants, and contamination - if present - may come from different types of sources.

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Testing for PFAS


Relatively recent advances in laboratory testing now enable us to test for PFAS compounds at extremely low levels. Water systems that tested negative for PFAS at parts per billion may now test positive at parts per trillion.  


However, these tests do not tell us when the PFAS entered the water source or from where. This issue continues to develop, and there is much we still do not know with certainty.

Multiple Treatment Options


Your water suppliers, along with other local officials and governing bodies, may seek guidance from drinking water engineers and develop a solution that lowers the PFAS6 levels below state and federal standards. Options include:

  • Construction of water treatment plants to remove PFAS6 through these filtration options:

    • Granular activated carbon

    • Anion exchange resins

    • Reverse osmosis

  • Dilution of water sources to lower PFAS6 levels

  • Installation of point-of-use filtration systems

Your public water suppliers will determine the best solution that balances an appropriate public health response with the financial impact of the solution.


Legal Action


For some communities, part of the solution will be attempting to identify the parties responsible for releasing PFAS in the environment and seeking compensation for the added cost of filtration.  However, it should be noted it may not always be possible to identify the source.  This will be done on a case-by-case basis as it involves complex scientific analysis and a risk-reward analysis by public waters suppliers.

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