Hampden County (MA) near Barnes Air National Guard Base



In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted exposure assessments (EAs) in communities that were known to have PFAS in their drinking water and are near current or former military bases. The EAs provide information to communities about levels of PFAS in their bodies and can provide guidance to help people reduce or stop exposure. CDC/ATSDR sent the individual test results to participants and released summary results to the community in May 2020. The PFAS exposure assessment report [PDF – 2 MB] for the area near the Barnes Air National Guard Base site in Westfield, Hampden County, MA, was released on November 18, 2021. The complete report is available here.

Why did we select Westfield?

When selecting EA sites, ATSDR considered the extent of PFOA and PFOS contamination in drinking water supplies, the duration over which exposure may have occurred, and the number of potentially affected residents. Westfield was one of several sites nationwide identified with PFAS drinking water contamination from use of products such as aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). As early as the 1980s, the Barnes Air National Guard Base used AFFF containing PFAS for its firefighter training. Over time, the PFAS from the AFFF entered the ground, moved into the groundwater to offsite locations, and affected nearby municipal wells. PFAS were first detected in the Westfield water system in 2013. Over the next several years, the City of Westfield took actions to reduce PFAS levels in water supplies. These actions included removal of drinking water supply wells from service and temporary water restrictions on all non-essential water use. Municipal drinking water testing in 2016 for a set of PFAS showed that levels of these PFAS met the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2016 Health Advisory (HA). Based on the information we reviewed as part of the EA, the public drinking water supply in Westfield continues to meet this health advisory.

Sampling Area and Eligibility

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.


How was the testing conducted?

ATSDR invited randomly selected households to participate in the PFAS exposure assessment. Household members were eligible if they (1) received their drinking water from the Westfield Water Department, (2) lived north of the Westfield River for at least one year before January 20, 2016 (the date when water treatment for PFAS began), (3) were older than three years old at the time of sample collection (these residents have the greatest likelihood of past exposures to PFAS via the city’s drinking water supply), and (4) were not anemic or have a bleeding disorder that would prevent giving a blood sample. Households with private wells were not eligible for participation. Measuring PFAS in the blood of people from randomly selected households allows us to estimate exposure from consumption of public drinking water for the entire community in the affected area, even those who were not tested.


In May 2020, CDC/ATSDR released a summary of the biological and environmental test results collected. The full report was released on November 18, 2021 and a summary of the report’s findings is presented below. The full report is available here.

In September 2019, ATSDR collected samples and other information from participants.

analyzed data from


people, including children



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Everyone completed a questionnaire

icon of test tube and medicine bottle

most people provided blood and urine samples

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and ATSDR collected samples of tap water and dust from some homes

Key Takeaways

  • Levels of some PFAS in the blood of Westfield residents were up to four times higher than national levels.
  • Elevated blood levels may be linked with past drinking water contamination.
  • Some demographic and lifestyle characteristics were linked with higher PFAS blood levels.
  • All tap water samples collected during the EA in 2019 met the EPA’s HA and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) public health guidelines for PFAS in drinking water.

Blood Level Results

Virtual Information Session

CDC and ATSDR invite all residents of the City of Westfield to attend a virtual information session to learn more about the results of the PFAS exposure assessment. Experts also will answer community questions.

December 9, 2021
6:00-7:30 PM ET
To register, go to:

For information contact Region 1 Director, Captain Tarah Somers RN, MSN/MPH, 617-918-1493, tvs4@cdc.gov.

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