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We can’t focus just on toxic water — we have to stop using ‘forever chemicals’

The sun sets over the city of Lowell on the Merrimack River.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

A Lowell treatment plant’s decision not to accept water contaminated with PFAS was the only intelligent choice (“Lowell will stop taking toxic water from N.H. landfill,” Page A1, Nov. 8). Science continues to mount showing that even low levels of exposure to PFAS can result in major health effects. Regulation has some serious catching up to do. The problem won’t go away on its own.

Unfortunately, the Merrimack River is one of many Massachusetts drinking water sources contaminated with PFAS, otherwise known as “forever chemicals.” Even without strong regulatory direction, water treatment plants have the authority and responsibility to protect public health and limit community exposure to PFAS whenever possible. It’s unfortunate that regulators didn’t act with similar caution by denying the permit in the first place.


But we can’t focus only on what to do with already contaminated wastewater. We need to look further upstream. In fact, a simple and effective mechanism for limiting PFAS exposure exists: Stop using PFAS. These chemicals are in our landfills because they are in our homes: food packaging, clothing, carpeting, furniture, the list goes on. To truly put a stop to this scourge, manufacturers need to stop putting PFAS in products, and legislators must ensure that they do so, quickly.

Maureo Fernandez y Mora

Drinking water advocate

Massachusetts office of Clean Water Action