Federal agencies taking a closer look at impact of contaminants in Westfield’s water

Hampden County

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Contamination of the city’s water supply has been something the city has struggled with for years, and now the CDC and ATSDR are taking a closer look at how that’s impacted residents.

Westfield residents have worried about their water for years, and nearly 100 people packed into the first meeting about a study looking at how PFAS chemicals have impacted their bodies.

It’s believed chemicals from firefighting foam used at Barnes Air National Guard Base contaminated the city’s water supply,

But, much of the impact of these chemicals on residents is still unknown, and a PFAS exposure assessment will help answer that question.

“A way to see what people in this community have been exposed to if they’ve been exposed to PFAS. We do that by measuring levels of the chemicals in people’s bodies, so we’ll be measuring levels of the chemicals in people’s blood and urine,” said Dr. Rachel Rogers.

Only a handful of cities that applied to be part of the assessment were selected.

Kristen Mello, the founder of WRAFT, an organization advocating for Westfield residents impacted by the water contamination, said Westfield being chosen is a major win, “This is pretty amazing, this is a great turnout.”

Mello said 395 residents from the Northside of the city where the water has been impacted will be studied, as well as the water and dust in several homes. But this is just one piece of the puzzle, it would evaluate the levels of PFAS in people’s bodies, not the health impacts that it creates.

“That will really only give us a snapshot of what right now is in our blood. any work to find out about health ailments would be a health study, which is a totally different entity,” said Mello.

But Mello said her organization, as well as professors from UMass, have filed a proposal to be a part of the PFAS study, and evaluate the health impacts.

People will begin being contacted about being part of the study over the next several days, and the agency will be collecting samples starting in September.

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