What options should be considered when PFAS6 in drinking water is above MassDEP’s drinking water standard?
  • Sensitive subgroups, including pregnant or nursing women, infants and people diagnosed by their
    health care provider to have a compromised immune system, should consider using bottled water
    that has been tested for PFAS6, for their drinking water, cooking of foods that absorb water (like
    pasta) and to make infant formula. Bottled water that has been tested for PFAS6, or formula that
    does not require adding water, are alternatives
  • For older children and adults, the MMCL is applicable to a lifetime of consuming the water. For these
    groups, shorter duration exposures present less risk. However, if you are concerned about your
    exposure while steps are taken to assess and lower the PFAS6 concentration in your drinking water,
    use of bottled water that has been tested for PFAS6 will reduce your exposure.
  • Water contaminated with PFAS6 can be treated by some home water treatment systems that are
    certified to remove PFAS6 by an independent testing group such as NSF, UL, or Water Quality
    Association. These may include point of entry (POE) systems, which treat all the water entering a
    home, or point of use (POU) devices, which treat water where it is used, such as at a faucet.
  • In most situations the water can be safely used for washing and rinsing foods and washing dishes.
  • For washing items that might go directly into your mouth, like dentures and pacifiers, only a small
    amount of water might be swallowed and the risk of experiencing adverse health effects is very low.
    You can minimize any risk by not using water with PFAS6 greater than the MMCL to wash such
  • The water can be safely used by adults and older children for brushing teeth. However, use of bottled
    water should be considered for young children as they may swallow more water than adults when they
    brush their teeth. If you are concerned about your exposure, even though the risk is very low, you
    could use bottled water for these activities.
  • Because PFAS are not well absorbed through the skin, routine showering or bathing are not a
    significant concern unless PFAS6 levels are very high. Shorter showers or baths, especially for children who may swallow water while playing in the bath, or for people with severe skin conditions (e.g.
    significant rashes) would limit any absorption from the water. Based on information from the
    Connecticut Department of Health, which is the only State to have issued guidance on this issue,
    water should not be used, long-term, for showering and bathing if the PFAS6 level exceeds 210 ppt.
  • For pets or companion animals, the health effects and levels of concern to mammalian species, like
    dogs, cats and farm animals, are likely to be similar to those for people. However, because these
    animals are different sizes, have different lifespans, and drink different amounts of water than
    people it’s not possible to predict what health effects an animal may experience from drinking
    water long-term with PFAS6 concentrations greater than the MMCL. There is some evidence that
    birds may be more sensitive to PFAS6. There is little data on PFAS6 effects on other species like
    turtles, lizards, snakes and fish. As a precaution, if you have elevated levels of PFAS6 in your water,
    you may wish to consider using alternative water for your pets. If you have concerns, you may also
    want to consult with your veterinarian.
  • For gardening or farming, certain plants may take up some PFAS6 from irrigation water and soil.
    Unfortunately, there is not enough scientific data to predict how much will end up in a specific crop.
    Since people eat a variety of foods, the risk from the occasional consumption of produce grown in soil
    or irrigated with water contaminated with PFAS6 is likely to be low. Families who grow a large fraction
    of their produce would experience higher potential exposures and should consider the following steps,
    which should help reduce PFAS6 exposures from gardening:
    • Maximize use of rainwater or water from another safe source for your garden.
    • Wash your produce in clean water after you harvest it.
    • Enhance your soil with clean compost rich in organic matter, which has been reported to
      reduce PFAS uptake into plants.
    • Use raised beds with clean soil.
  • Note on Boiling Water: Boiling water will not destroy these chemicals and will increase their levels somewhat due to water evaporation.
  • NOTE ON BOTTLED WATER: Even though bottlers are not required to test for PFAS6, some bottlers have. The best way to know if the bottled water you are drinking or plan to drink has been tested for PFAS6 is to contact the bottler and ask for the latest PFAS testing results. Contact information should be available on the bottle or you may need to search the internet. For more information, see MassDEP’s website on PFAS and bottled water at: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/per-andpolyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas#bottled-water-and-home-water-filters-.
  • NOTE ON POU and POE TREATMENT DEVICES: Point of Use (POU) and Point of Entry (POE) treatment devices are not specifically designed to meet Massachusetts’ drinking water standard for PFAS6, there are systems that have been designed to meet the USEPA’s Health Advisory of 70 ng/L for the sum of PFOS and PFOA. Any treatment device you use should be certified to meet the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standard P473 to remove PFOS and PFOA compounds so that the sum of their concentrations is below the USEPA Health Advisory of 70 ng/L. Please be aware that 70 ng/L is significantly greater than the MassDEP’s drinking water standard of 20 ppt for the PFAS6 compounds. Many of these treatment devices certified to meet NSF standard P473 will likely be able to reduce PFAS6 levels to well below 70 ppt, but there are no federal or state testing requirements for these treatment devices. If you chose to install a treatment device, you should check to see if the manufacturer has independently verifiable PFAS6 monitoring results demonstrating that the device can reduce PFAS6 below 20 ppt. See more detailed information on POU/POE treatment systems in the Private Well Factsheet at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas-in-private-well-drinking-water-supplies-faq.

Show All Answers

1. What are PFAS and how are people exposed to them?
2. What is the Massachusetts drinking water standard?
3. What health effects are associated with exposure to PFAS6?
4. How can I find out about contaminants in my drinking water?
5. What options should be considered when PFAS6 in drinking water is above MassDEP’s drinking water standard?
6. Where can I get more information on PFAS?
7. Where can I find more information about Treatment Devices for PFAS?