Important Information for all consumers receiving Drinking Water from our system

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Important Notice: This notice provides important information regarding your drinking water and contaminants known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). Although the most recent sampling results for Littleton Water Department showed PFAS in the drinking water, the results were below the current health guideline established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). This notice provides information about MassDEP’s ongoing efforts to address PFAS in drinking water and provide health-protective guidelines.

The EPA in 2016 published a drinking water Health Advisory Level for two of the PFAS compounds (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, PFOS, and Perfluoroocatanoic acid, PFOA) combined at 0.070 micrograms per liter (ug/L) or 70 parts per trillion (ppt). In June 2018, MassDEP issued an Office of Research and Standards guideline (ORSG) for drinking water of 0.070 ug/L or 70 ppt for five PFAS compounds combined. Those compounds are PFOA (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), PFOS (Perfluorooctanoic acid), PFNA (Perfluorononanoic acid), PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) and PFHpA (Perfluoroheptanoic acid). The ORSG was established to be protective against adverse health effects for all people consuming the water for a lifetime and is also applicable to shorter-term exposures of weeks to months during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Based on the current ORSG, MassDEP has recommended that:

  1. consumers in sensitive subgroups (pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants) not consume water when the level of the five PFAS substances, individually or in combination, is above 70 ppt; and,
  2. public water suppliers take steps expeditiously to lower levels of the five PFAS, individually or in combination, to below 70 ppt for all consumers.

As part of the agency’s efforts to address PFAS compounds, MassDEP continues to review the current scientific information, studies and assessments on PFAS and based on this evaluation, MassDEP is undertaking the following actions:

  1. MassDEP proposed draft amendments to the Massachusetts hazardous waste cleanup regulations (the Massachusetts Contingency Plan or “MCP”) that include groundwater and soil cleanup standards. Consistent with the proposed ORSG level described below, the proposed standard for groundwater that is currently used or could be used as drinking water is 20 ppt for the five compounds noted above plus PFDA (Perfluorodecanoic acid) (six total).
  • MassDEP’s Office of Research and Standards has convened its Health Effects Advisory Committee to provide input on the technical basis of the proposed MCP standards and its implication for a potential revised ORSG with a limit of 20 ppt for the sum of the six PFAS compounds.
  • MassDEP also recently began the process to develop a drinking water standard for public drinking water systems, known as a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), for the six PFAS compounds combined. Information on this effort, including information on stakeholder meetings, can be found at https://www.mass.gov/lists/development-of-a-pfas-drinking-water-standard-mcl.

What PFAS Levels have been detected in your drinking water, and what should you do?

Samples collected at the Spectacle Pond Water Treatment Plant on June 19, 2019 and confirmed on August 6, 2019 showed an average total of 25 ppt for the following six PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, PFHpA, and PFDA.

  • These results are below EPA’s and MassDEP’s current health advisory guidelines but they are above the new 20 ppt guideline now under consideration by MassDEP. If you are a sensitive consumer (pregnant women, nursing mothers, and infants) you can minimize your exposure by using bottled water that has been tested for PFAS for drinking, making infant formula and cooking foods that absorb water or use a home water treatment system that is certified to remove PFAS by an independent testing group such as NSF International, Underwriters Laboratories, Water Quality Association, or the CSA Group. See MassDEP PFAS Factsheet for more information at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas
  • Boiling water will not destroy PFAS and will somewhat increase their levels due to evaporation of some of the water.
  • As PFAS compounds are not well absorbed through the skin, you may safely use the water for bathing and showering. If you are concerned about your exposure, even though the risk is very low, you may want to use bottled water for brushing your teeth and cleaning items like dentures, pacifiers, and fruits and vegetables.
  • If you have specific health concerns regarding your exposure, you may want to consult a health professional, such as your doctor.

What is our water system doing?

Our system has taken the following actions:

  • Littleton Water Department is minimizing usage of the source with elevated PFAS levels (Spectacle Pond).
  • We are investigating alternative sources of water and treatment options.
  • Littleton Water Department’s other wells did not contain any combination of the six PFAS above 20 ppt.
  • We will continue to sample our water source for PFAS on a quarterly basis.
  • We are working as expeditiously as possible to install treatment to remove the PFAS from Spectacle Pond drinking water.
  • We are exploring interconnections with other public water systems to purchase drinking water.
  • We are also investigating the source of the PFAS with assistance from MassDEP.

What are PFAS and how are people exposed to them?

PFAS are fluorinated organic chemicals. Two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS (perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. PFAS are contained in firefighting foams, which have been used in training exercises and to extinguish oil and gas fires at a variety of locations including airfields and military installations. PFAS are also used in a number of industrial processes and have been used to manufacture carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials (e.g., nonstick cookware) that are resistant to water, grease or stains. Because these chemicals have been used in many consumer products, most people have been exposed to them.

While consumer products and food are the largest source of exposure to these chemicals for most people, drinking water can be an additional source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility, for example, an airfield at which they were used for firefighting or a facility where these chemicals were produced or used.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on what our system is doing about this situation, please contact Corey Godfrey at 978-540-2282, cgodfrey@lelwd.com, or 39 Ayer Road, Littleton.

You can also get more information on PFAS from the following sources:

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

This notice is being sent to you by:

PWS Name: Littleton Water Department PWS ID#: 2158000

Date distributed: October 21, 2019