Bureau of Environmental Health Issues Advisory on PFAS in Cape Waters
November 3, 2021
The Bureau of Environmental Health, a division of Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health, announced today that they are issuing a fish consumption advisory for five ponds in the Cape found to be contaminated with high levels of PFAS chemicals. The advisory, which affects waters in Bourne, Sandwich, and Mashpee, as well as two ponds in Falmouth, urges children under 12, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and women of child-bearing age to not eat any fish and the general public to limit consumption of fish that have been caught in those ponds to prevent residents from being unduly exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS.
The five ponds covered by the advisory include:
Flax Pond in Bourne,
Grews Pond and Jenkins Pond in Falmouth
Johns Pond in Mashpee
Mashpee-Wakeby Pond which stretches from Sandwich to Mashpee
The study which prompted the Bureau’s advisory surveyed the levels of chemicals in the water in sixteen (16) and the fish in five (5) bodies of water in the vicinity of Joint Base Cape Cod. All 16 remain cleared for swimming and recreational activities, including catch and release fishing. Local boards of health have been briefed by the Bureau on the details of the testing that was conducted, and the rationale of the warnings being issued to the public.
The advisory from the Bureau of Environmental Health comes in the wake of a report from the Town of Barnstable that found PFAS present in every one of twenty-one (21) bodies of water tested in the town. Another recent study from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Geological Survey detected PFAS in all twenty-seven (27) of the rivers tested.
“This advisory warning is yet another layer in our understanding of PFAS contamination in our waterways,” said Senator Susan L. Moran. “The limits on the ability to consume fish from these water bodies are highly impactful. Women of child-bearing age, pregnant and nursing women, and children under age 12 cannot consume fish from these bodies of water without threatening their health. This cannot be taken lightly, and it colors the unfolding situation with the proposed machine gun range on Joint Base Cape Cod. The safety of our water is quintessential for the future of our communities, and this advisory is the canary in the coal mine. We need to be assertive and careful about our next moves and to keep community health at the very front of our priorities. I have been fighting to get PFAS out of communities, and it is clearer than ever that we must end the threat these chemicals pose to the Commonwealth.”
Senator Moran jointly filed bill S.2552, An Act protecting the Upper Cape water supply reserve, along with Rep. Dylan Fernandes. The bill would require additional environmental oversight for projects involving clearcutting of land on the reserve, specifically targeting projects like the proposed machine gun range on Joint Base Cape Cod to ensure that any risk of environmental contamination is mitigated, and public drinking water is protected.
More information from the Department of Public Health can be found here: Department of Public Health issues fish consumption advisories for five Cape Cod waterbodies | Mass.gov.