Study Detects PFAS in Massachusetts Bay

SCITUATE – An environmental chemist shared findings from a recent study that detected levels of the ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS throughout Massachusetts Bay  

Dr. Anna Robuck, Researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai, spoke at a recent meeting of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council to share her recent research on PFAS.

Robuck and colleagues collected samples from different sites in Massachusetts Bay to see where PFAS were located.

“What we are seeing in this environment is that the PFAS levels are higher than concentrations observed in other open ocean environments,” Robuck said.

The oceanographer reported there are higher levels of the contaminants in Massachusetts Bay compared to spots in Narragansett Bay a similar distance away from the coastline.

“I’m a little bit surprised that we did see the levels that we did in Massachusetts Bay considering how highly diluted it is. We thought that a lot of this would get washed out and we would have a lot more non-detects than we did,” Robuck said.

According to Robuck, her findings indicate that some water sources like the Merrimack River and the outflow from Boston Harbor are having impacts on contaminant levels in the bay.

PFAS are found in personal care products, flame retardants, pesticides, and several other products.

Robuck said that PFAS exposure can lead to negative health effects including damage to the endocrine system, cancer, and several developmental disorders.

She said the effects on marine health from prolonged exposure to PFAS in the bay remain unclear.

Robuck also shared a hypothesis about how the chemicals are likely already affecting human health.  

“The hypothesis that is widely accepted across the public health community is that we’re already experiencing public health impacts from exposure to PFAS and the most sensitive end point that PFAS seem to impact is unfortunately the immune system,” she said.

Robuck said that according to the EU, consuming seafood makes up an estimated 90% an adult’s annual exposure to PFAS.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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