WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A study was conducted of indoor samples from households in Westfield for a PFAS Environmental Sampling project.
A total of 48 residents participated in the Spring of 2022 which consisted of collecting dust from vacuum cleaners and as well as indoor air. The results are now being mailed to the homes that participated. According to a news release sent to 22News from the City of Westfield Mayor’s Office, the results will not be made public until all residents have been notified.
It’s believed chemicals from firefighting foam used at Barnes Air National Guard Base contaminated the city’s water supply. PFAS chemicals were widely used in the 1950s to manufacture common consumer products and used in some legacy fire-fighting foams.
PFAS chemicals are known as forever chemicals because they do not break down entirely in the environment, or within our bodies. PFAS chemicals are often introduced to soil most frequently through the use of biosolids for fertilizer. When this type of “sludge” is used, plants absorb them, which then passes on the chemicals to animals and humans.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services, began taking a closer look at how PFAS chemicals have impacted residents of the city’s water supply with its Exposure Assessment (EA) project in 2019.
The first study in 2019 included blood serum sampling of 459 people in Westfield from 247 households. The EA data collection was completed in 2019 and the results were reported in 2021. According to ATSDR, the levels of PFAS were four times higher than national levels. Tap water samples collected at this time met the public health guidelines for PFAS in drinking water.
In addition, samples of outdoor levels of PFAS were collected at Westfield Intermediate School on Southampton Road in June 2022, and there were “no appreciable levels of PFAS,” according to the City of Westfield.
According to ATSDR, research involving humans suggests that high levels of certain PFAS may lead to the following:
- Increased cholesterol levels
- changes in liver enzymes
- small decreases in infant birth weights
- Decreased vaccine response in children
- Increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
- Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer
A community forum to discuss the latest results will be held with Mayor Mike McCabe along with ATSDR has not yet been scheduled.
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