To better characterize the extent of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water in Massachusetts, the state Department of Environmental Protection has announced free PFAS testing for select private wells. The department has identified 81 towns, including Harvard, whose residents are primarily served by private wells, and it will test for PFAS in samples from approximately 40 wells in each of those towns. Harvard’s neighboring towns of Bolton and Stow have also been selected for the free testing program.
Interested Harvard residents can apply to the program at https://dwp-pfas.madwpdep.org. MassDEP will choose which wells in town to test based on geographic distribution throughout the town and proximity to potential sources of PFAS. Homeowners who are selected to participate will be responsible for conducting the test themselves; MassDEP will provide sampling kits and instructions.
Results will be reported to well owners, the Harvard Board of Health, and MassDEP. Homeowners may be asked to repeat the test if PFAS are detected. MassDEP will use the test results to create PFAS characterization maps. While those results will be anonymous, MassDEP cautions that PFAS test results are considered public documents.
MassDEP will notify those selected to participate in the test that PFAS results above the state’s maximum contaminant level of 20 parts per trillion will require homeowners to treat their water. MassDEP will provide technical guidance in these cases.