Contaminants found at McKeon Water Treatment Plant

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North Attleborough Town Hall

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

The Department of Public Works has issued a notice following the discovery of contaminants above acceptable levels.

The notice was issued on July 20, and states that the town’s water system violated a new standard set by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Issued last October, the standard for PFAS6 was set at at 20 nanograms per liter. PFAS6 are man-made chemicals that have been used in certain fire-fighting foams and moisture and stain resistant products.

Monthly sampling at the McKeon Water Treatment Plant on Mark Kennedy Drive showed it to have an average of 22.5 from April through June.

According to the statement, this is not an emergency, although pregnant or nursing women, infants, and those with compromised immune systems are advised not to consume, drink, or cook with water when the level of PFAS6 is above 20 ng/L.

For older children and adults (not in a sensitive subgroup), the 20 ng/L value is applicable to a lifetime of consuming the water,” the statement read. “For these groups, shorter duration exposures present less risk.”

Some people who drink water containing these contaminants in excess of the MCL may experience effects on the liver, blood, immune system, thyroid, and fetal development. It may also elevate the risk of certain cancers, although there has been no conclusive evidence. For more information on PFAS6, visit this page on Mass.gov.

Drinking water at a level above the 20 nanogram level does not necessarily mean that a person will get sick. This is because this is based on a level that is safe to drink for an entire lifetime.

According to the DPW statement, boiling water will not destroy PFAS6 and could increase its level due to evaporation of some of the water. Some home water treatment systems used to treat/filter individual faucets or entire homes can or may be able to lower the level of PFAS6 in drinking water, although none have been evaluated to determine their efficacy.

We provided Public Education about PFAS in February 2021 after the Adamsdale Well was taken off-line following the receipt of initial PFAS6 sampling results that showed PFAS6 concentrations above 20 ng/L,” the statement read. “Adamsdale Well will remain off-line until a new, permanent PFAS treatment facility is constructed. We are currently working with our design engineers on an expedited project to design, permit, and install the new granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment facility by the summer of 2022.”

The DPW intends to provide alternative water to sensitive subgroups at no cost to consumers while long-term corrective actions are being implemented. For updates on accessing alternative water, visit www.nattleboro.com/department-of-public-works.