A Massachusetts man who researched the levels of contamination in Cape Cod's bodies of water found that there were human-made chemicals in 21 ponds he tested.
Tom Cambareri, a hydrologist residing in Barnstable, collected water samples from ponds around town, finding a group of chemicals known as PFAS polluting the town's clean water supply, The Cape Cod Times reported.
The chemicals have been linked to several health problems and often do not break into the environment easily. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are unregulated at the federal level, but Massachusetts is beginning to put safeguards on drinking water.
Last year, Massachusetts enacted a safeguard that would allow 20 nanograms per liter for a group of six PFAS compounds in drinking water, the newspaper reported.
The contamination of local water supplies can be traced to the Barnstable County Fire Rescue and Training Academy and the Cape Cod Gateway Airport. The two locations used PFAS-filled firefighting foam for decades, the newspaper said.
Even though in 2015 city water officials began cleaning up the pollution from the airport and training academy, Cambareri’s report found that the pollutants spread across the village through contaminated well water before that treatment began.
Barnstable Director of Public Works Daniel Santos said the biggest conclusion from Cambareri’s report is “that there is PFAS in surface waters and groundwaters throughout the town of Barnstable.”
Local officials said they cannot do anything further because there is no state or federal standard for exposure to PFAS in surface water bodies, only for drinking water.
With no federal guidance, the town is not required to take any action in response to the report’s findings, Santos said.