Hampden County (MA) near Barnes Air National Guard Base

River

PFAS Exposure Assessment Community Level Results

New! In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) started exposure assessments (EAs) in communities near current or former military bases known to have had per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their drinking water. Individuals who participated in the EAs provided blood and urine samples to CDC/ATSDR for analysis. We sent letters to participants that included their individual lab results. An example letter of the test results letter and the community level results are available here.

Background 

As early as the 1980s, the Barnes Air National Guard Base (the Base) used aqueous film forming foam containing PFAS for its firefighting training. These compounds later moved off-site in groundwater, likely affecting both municipal and private drinking water wells located downgradient of the Base.

In 2013, when PFAS was first detected, the Westfield Water Department and the Massachusetts Department Environmental Protection (MassDEP) took actions to ensure the quality of the drinking water in Westfield. These actions over the next several years included removing three drinking water supply wells from service and placing temporary water restrictions on all non-essential water use. Presently, the Westfield Department of Public Works (DPW)–Water Division’s primary sources of drinking water are from surface water and groundwater sources meeting federal and state PFAS guidelines. The Westfield DPW-Water Division installed a temporary treatment system. This system ensures that PFAS levels in the treated water are below detection limits. The Westfield DPW-Water Division is in the process of installing permanent treatment on its four affected wells. The Westfield DPW-Water Division continues to test its water sources and pursue system improvements to address PFAS contamination. Nearby private wells were sampled and, if needed, filtration systems were installed.

ATSDR was recently made aware that there may be confusion about current PFAS levels in the City of Westfield drinking water system. Based on the information ATSDR has reviewed, current drinking water sources meet all federal and state guidelines. ATSDR does not recommend community members use alternative sources of water.

In 2013 PFAS was detected in drinking water, levels were lower than EPA’s provisional health advisory levels. Between 2015 and 2016, City of Westfield Water Department and MassDEP take offline water sources with highest offline water sources with highest PFAS levels detected in 2013. In 2016, EPA issues a lifetime health advisory for the sum of two PFAS compounds (PFOA and PFOS)  at 70 parts per trillion. In 2018, MassDEP issues PFAS guidelines; all water tests show drinking water meets EPA and MassDEP guidelines; and the City of Westfield Water Department is actively pursuing drinking water treatment options to ensure PFAS levels remain below guidelines.

The exposure assessments assess people’s past exposures to PFAS via drinking water. Local authorities in Westfield have taken action to reduce levels of PFAS in drinking water that were measured in the past. Because PFAS stay in people’s bodies for a long time we can still measure them in community members years after drinking water exposures end. This information will be used to compare PFAS levels in this community to the general U.S. population.

Participating in an exposure assessment will help you and your community better understand the extent of environmental exposures to PFAS. A random selection of households impacted by PFAS in their drinking water will be identified. If your household is selected to participate, you will receive a letter in the mail from CDC/ATSDR explaining the exposure assessment and registration process. You will also get a phone call from a representative who can answer questions and register you and other members of your household interested in participating. Household members are eligible if they are 3 years of age or older, do not have a bleeding disorder and are not anemic, and have lived in the recruitment area since January 20, 2015. Inclusion of children in the exposure assessment is dependent on parent or legal guardian consent.

Sampling Area

The map shows the sampling area where the exposure assessment will occur. It focuses on an area where residential tap water PFOA and/or PFOS concentrations were above federal or state guidelines.  The boundary of this area represents Westfield residents who live north of the Westfield River and receive water from the Westfield Water Department. The map also shows the location of the Barnes Air National Guard Base.

Schedule

CDC/ATSDR began an exposure assessment in Westfield in summer 2019. Recruitment took approximately 6 weeks. CDC/ATSDR was in Westfield from September 4 through September 17, 2019 to test participants. 

CDC/ATSDR completed the analysis of environmental and biological samples. Individual test results were mailed to participants on May 8, 2020. If you participated in the exposure assessment and have not received your individual test results, please contact ATSDR at PFAS@cdc.gov. CDC and ATSDR will write a final report summarizing the findings and recommendations for the community and present the results at a public meeting.

EA timeline Hampden County. Information session & recruitment Jul 2019. Sampling ended Sep 17, 2019. Results sent May 8, 2020

Information Session

CDC/ATSDR held an information session to answer questions from the community, listen to concerns, and promote transparency and understanding.

When
July 23, 2019
5:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
Presentation will start at 6:00 p.m.

Where
Westfield Intermediate School
350 Southampton Rd
Westfield, MA 01085

For information on work being done in Westfield, MA contact Captain Tarah Somers RN, MSN/MPH, Regional Representative, 617-918-1493

Page last reviewed: June 24, 2020