PFAS Information, Water Test Results and Response Plan

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Table of Contents:

  1. Overview
  2. What are PFAS?
  3. What Does Nanograms per Liter or Parts per Trillion Mean?
  4. How do PFAS Affect Me?
  5. What contains PFAS?
  6. How am I Exposed to PFAS?
  7. Water Testing Results
    1. "At the Tap" Sampling PFAS Analysis Results
    2. Scanned Images of MassDEP Drinking Water PFAS Analysis Reports
    3. Wayland High School Athletic Fields Groundwater Sampling Test Results
    4. Mass DEP Notice of Noncompliance
    5. Detailed PFAS Analysis Results
  8. Where Does My Drinking Water Come From?
  9. What is Wayland doing to stop PFAS
  10. How can I stay updated?
  11. Bottled Water Distribution Instructions
  12. Documents/Resources


On September 24, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced the final regulations for PFAS in drinking water and continue to clarify how laboratory results should be calculated and reported. The MassDEP press release can be found here. In October 2020, MassDEP promulgated a new drinking water standard for the sum of six PFAS compounds (PFAS6, see table below). This new standard requires all Massachusetts public water suppliers test for PFAS. The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for the sum of PFAS6 may not exceed 20 nanograms per liter (ng/L), also equal to 20 parts per trillion (ppt). Federal Drinking water standards do not currently regulate PFAS.

PFAS6 Compounds

AbbreviationChemical Name
PFOSPerfluorooctane sulfonic acid
PFOA (aka C8)Perfluorooctanoic acid
PFNAPerfluorononanoic acid
PFHxSPerfluorohexanesulfonic acid
PFHpAPerfluoroheptanoic acid
PFBSPerfluorobutanesulfonic acid
What are PFAS?

Per- and PolyFluorAlkyl Substances or PFAS, are a group of numerous human-made chemicals used since the 1950s to manufacture stain-resistant, water-resistant, and non-stick products. Some examples include:

Food Packaging Icon  Food Packaging     |    Cookware Icon Non-Stick Cookware        Clothes Icon  Waterproof Clothing

Personal Care Icon  Personal Care Products        Fire Extinguisher Icon  Fire-Fighting Foam 

Because these chemicals have been used in many consumer products, most people have been exposed to them. PFAS have been detected in wastewater and even in rainfall. PFAS stay in the environment for a long time and do not break down easily. As a result, PFAS may be widely detected in soil, water, air, and food. While consumer products and food are the largest source of exposure to these chemicals for most people, drinking water can be an additional source in communities where PFAS are present in water supplies. So far, over two dozen community water systems in Massachusetts have sources testing over 20 ng/L of PFAS.

What Does Nanograms per Liter or Part per Trillion Mean?

In order to understand what a chemical measurement means, one needs to have a basic understanding of the type of measuring units used, and what they mean. As mentioned above, most of our contaminants are measured using concentration units, such as ppm, ppb, ppt, mg/L, ug/L and ng/L.  What do these units mean in plain English?

Well for starters there are several that are equivalent to one another. In this case ppm = mg/L, ppb = ug/L and  ppt = ng/L. Unfortunately, in some circumstances it is customary to use one unit format where in another case it is customary to use the other which can add to confusion.  One example we can use is the liquid chlorine added to our water during the treatment process. This is customarily reported in ppm or parts per million and has a target of value of  1.0 ppm. This value refers to one part of chemical (in this case liquid chlorine) found in one million parts of our water.  This is equivalent to 1 mg/L (milligram/Liter).  Standards for PFAS levels in drinking water are customarily given in units of ng/L (nanograms/Liter) which is equivalent to parts per trillion or ppt. To realize how small a value this actually is and how difficult this contaminant is to trace in the environment, read the analogies listed below:

One part per million (ppm) equals:

  • 1 inch in 16 miles

One part per billion (ppb) equals:

  • 1 inch in 16,000 miles

One part per trillion (ppt) equals:

  • 1 inch in 16 million miles (600+ times around the earth)

Another way to think about it is, one (1) ppt would be represented by a single drop of water in 18 million gallons of water. That is one drop of water in roughly 28 Olympic sized swimming pools.

You also may view it as representing a single second out of 32,000 years.

How do PFAS Affect Me?

The MassDEP drinking water standard of 20 ng/L is based on studies of the PFAS6 substances in laboratory animals and studies of exposed people. Overall, these studies indicate that exposure to sufficiently elevated levels of the PFAS6 compounds may cause developmental effects in fetuses during pregnancy and in breastfed infants. Effects on the liver, blood, immune system, and thyroid have also been reported. Some studies suggest a cancer risk may exist following long-term exposures to elevated levels of some of these compounds.

It is important to note that consuming water with PFAS6 above 20 ng/L does not mean that adverse effects will occur. The degree of risk depends on the level and the duration of exposure. The drinking water standard assumes that individuals drink only contaminated water, which typically overestimates exposure, and that they are also exposed to PFAS from sources beyond drinking water, such as food. To enhance safety, several uncertainty factors are additionally applied to account for differences between test animals and humans, and to account for differences between people. Scientists are still working to study and better understand the health risks posed by exposures to PFAS.

If PFAS6 levels are over the MCL, sensitive consumers (pregnant women, nursing mothers, and infants) should consider using bottled water that has been tested for PFAS for drinking, for making infant formula, and for cooking foods that absorb water (such as rice). Alternatively, you could use a home water treatment system that is certified to remove PFAS by an independent testing group such as National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Water Quality Association or the CSA Group. For more information, see MassDEP’s website on PFAS (under “Bottled water and home water filters”)

What Contains PFAS?
  • Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
  • Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
  • Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
  • Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
  • Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.

Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase outs including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.

How am I Exposed to PFAS?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

How else am I exposed to PFAS?

People are exposed to PFAS from many sources, far beyond their drinking water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, people are exposed to PFAS by food packaged in materials containing PFAS, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS contaminated soil or water. People may also have been exposed to PFAS in the workplace through production facilities or industries that involve chrome plating, electronics manufacturing, and oil recovery.

In addition, many commercial household products contained PFAS, and if made outside the United States, may still be made with PFAS. Those include stain- and water-repellant fabrics, nonstick cookware and other products, polishes, waxes, paints, and cleaning products, to name a few.

When found in drinking water, it is often the result of PFAS discharged from a nearby manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, or firefighter training facility that used fire suppressing foams.

In the United States and other industrialized countries, most people have concentrations of these compounds in their blood. The good news is the levels have been dropping as use of certain PFAS have been discontinued. A 2015-2016 federal study found an 82% drop in PFOS and 70% drop in PFOA in the general population, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Water Testing Results 

The Wayland Water Division has confirmed elevated levels of PFAS6 in the drinking water during initial and confirmatory monitoring starting in January 2021.  Even though the level is above the MCL, a PFAS6 MCL violation has not yet occurred, as violations are based on three months of testing, and we are waiting for the results of the March 2021 sampling.  Instead, we are required to provide you with these materials to make you aware of the elevated levels so you can make informed decisions about your drinking water while we continue to monitor the water supply.

Even though the reported levels are above the MCL, we are not currently in violation of the MassDEP PFAS6 MCL standard.  However, as it is likely that the next set of test results will also exceed the MCL putting us in violation of the standard, we are providing you with these materials to make you aware of the elevated levels so you can make informed decisions about your drinking water while we continue to monitor the water supply.

2021 Well Site Sampling Test Results

Sample DateResult (ng/L)Quarterly Average (ng/L)MCL (ng/L)
Happy Hollow Wells
February* 25.91
Chamberlain Well
Baldwin Pond Treatment Plant
Campbell Well
8/4/2021 (re-sample)3.1
*Two samples were collected in February (confirmatory & monthly sample) result listed is an average of the two.
**MassDEP has determined that the Baldwin Pond Treatment Plant and Campbell Well are "reliably and consistently" below the MCL. Therefore, these 2 sources were placed on a quarterly monitoring schedule by MassDEP.
***Results are suspect due to a likely sampling procedure error. Additional confirmatory samples have been drawn and analysis results are due shortly.


The location where elevated levels of PFAS6 was reported is the Happy Hollow Wellfield, one of the four entrance points (POE) that supplies drinking water to our system.  PFAS6 levels were reported below the 20 ng/L MCL at the other three POE locations.


    "At the Tap" Sampling PFAS Analysis Results

    Mass. DEP Drinking Water PFAS Analysis Reports

    • Massachusetts DEP Drinking Water PFAS Analysis Reports links to original scanned images can be found here.

    High School Athletic Fields & Dudley Pond Groundwater Sampling Results

    Mass DEP Notice of Noncompliance

    • Mass DEP PFAS Notice of Noncompliance can be found here.
    • Mass DEP PFAS Violation Response and Compliance Schedule Approval (CSA) Form can be found here.

    Detailed PFAS Analysis Results

    • The Detailed PFAS Analysis Results can be found here.
    Where Does My Drinking Water Come From?

    Wayland’s drinking water comes from 9 treated ground water wells, 3 of which, located at the Baldwin Pond Treatment Plant, undergo additional filtration. The Baldwin Pond Treatment Plant uses a process called Ultra Filtration. This type of filtration has several advantages over traditional water filtration:

    • Removes pathogens and turbidity
    • Provides an absolute barrier against bacteria, virus, and parasites
    • Compared to conventional disinfection treatment, no deactivated pathogens remain in the water.

    This process involves a number of steps starting with ozonation. Raw water is pumped into the Treatment Plant from a combination of three groundwater wells. Once in the plant the raw water is dosed with ozone to oxidize the iron and manganese that is naturally present in the groundwater. Next, potassium hydroxide is added to adjust the pH of the raw water and polyaluminumchloride to aid in flocculation of the iron and manganese particles. Then the raw water enters the ozone contact tank where the oxidation and flocculation takes place. After 70 minutes of travel time, the water enters one of two 500-micron prefilters to remove larger particles. Once this process is complete, the raw water enters the Ultra Filtration Units. After filtration, the water travels to the clear well where sodium hypochlorite is added for disinfection and sodium fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay.

    The Water Division continues to operate six (6) other wells that all have a similar chemical treatment process, without the filtration step. Water is pumped from the aquifer, and potassium hydroxide is added to adjust the pH. Sodium hypochlorite is added for disinfection, and sodium fluoride is added to help prevent tooth decay.

    Does my home get water from a particular supply well? No. We cannot say with any certainty that a particular household received water from a particular well, regardless of proximity of the well. Because water in our distribution system is a blend of all four of our wells and levels of PFAS will fluctuate throughout the water distribution system, it cannot be said for certain from where a particular address receives its water. As a matter of public health and regulatory requirements, the Town's outreach and response is based upon the results of all samples taken at our water supply well fields.

    What is Wayland Doing to Get Rid of PFAS in the Water?

    The Wayland Water Division has taken the following immediate proactive measures:

    1. Continuance of its monthly PFAS6 sampling protocols.
    2. Engaged with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) toward fulfilling Wayland’s regulatory obligations and the development of remedial actions necessary to reduce PFAS6 levels and protect public health.
    3. Evaluation of appropriate treatment processes and consideration of supplemental or alternative water supplies.
    4. Should further water quality sampling analysis result in an exceedance of the PFAS6 MCL, bottled water will be provided to those customers identified in MassDEP’s regulatory guidance as being in a sensitive subgroup.  Please visit the Town’s PFAS-Info outreach website for more information.
    How can I Stay Updated?

    You can stay updated by checking this page for updates, as well as updates on the home page.

    You may also subscribe to alerts for this page here.

    Bottled Water Distribution Instructions

    Emergency Water Pick-Up: 

    If you are in a sensitive subgroup and have a need for bottled water, you may collect bottled water at the Public Safety Building.

    Documents & Resources

    Important Documents:


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