Washington (November 18, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released their Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Exposure Assessment for the City of Westfield. According to the Exposure Assessment, Westfield’s drinking water meets federal and state public health guidelines, but blood levels of three different kinds of PFAS in the Westfield community are higher than national averages. Certain PFAS, deemed “forever chemicals” because they accumulate and persist in the environment, our bodies, and food sources, are linked to cancer, thyroid disease, infertility, and learning and developmental abnormalities.

“I commend the CDC and ATSDR for conducting this assessment of PFAS exposure in Westfield,” said Senator Markey. “While this study will help residents understand and mitigate their exposure to these toxic chemicals, it also puts in stark terms the prevalence of PFAS in our communities in Massachusetts and throughout the country and highlights their long-term accumulation in our bodies. It is time to turn off the tap on PFAS. We need stronger regulations for these toxic chemicals so we can prevent them from entering our communities in the first place. We must also clean up existing contamination, address the full life cycle of PFAS, and act now before the problem get worse.”

In 2019, the CDC and the ASTDR began conducting exposure assessments in communities near current or former military bases that were known to have PFAS in their drinking water. PFAS contamination was first detected six years ago in Westfield drinking water, due to a widely used, PFAS-containing firefighting foam at the Barnes Air National Guard Base.

Senator Markey is a co-sponsor of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency to develop criteria for PFAS under the Clean Water Act and provide federal grants to implement such guidelines, as well as the PROTECT Act, which would list certain PFAS as hazardous air pollutants.