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Schools’ contaminated water signals an unfolding health crisis

Bottled water is available for students and staff at The Center School in Stow.DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

It’s frightening to imagine water fountains at schools in Massachusetts wrapped in plastic to prevent children from drinking toxic water (“ ‘Forever chemicals’ stir water worries,” Page A1, Sept. 13). Even more frightening is the fact that contaminated drinking water is likely in more schools and towns across our state. It’s not that per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFAS, suddenly have been discovered where they weren’t before. It’s that recent testing is just beginning to pull back the veil on our broken chemical regulatory system, and that water in towns and cities has been polluted for years.

For these communities, testing is just the beginning of an unfolding contamination crisis that needs and deserves the state’s urgent attention. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection should follow the lead of our neighbors in Vermont and New Hampshire and act immediately to finalize new, enforceable, and truly health-protective standards for PFAS in drinking water. We suggest a standard of 1 part per trillion for total PFAS.


The contaminated drinking water in Stow’s schools is only the tip of this toxic iceberg. We need a statewide plan to protect all of our communities from these cancer-causing “forever chemicals.”

Sylvia Broude

Executive director

Toxics Action Center