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N.H. Tests Find PFAS Chemicals In Bottled Water Brands Sourced From Mass. Spring

Daniel Orth / Flickr CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1SZL4PJ

Tests by New Hampshire regulators show PFAS chemicals in bottled water brands sold across New England.

The Department of Environmental Services tested for PFAS in a random sample of bottled water sold in the state.

They found four brands with PFAS levels the state now considers unsafe. These were the generic brands for stores like Whole Foods, CVS, Market Basket and Cumberland Farms. They all contained water from a spring in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

(Click here for a spreadsheet of state bottled water testing results, with brands that had unsafe PFAS levels highlighted.)

That spring is now fitted with a PFAS filtration system, but some of the contaminated water may still be on store shelves.

DES assistant commissioner Clark Freise says his agency doesn't regulate bottled water. But he says they will test bottled water brands as a “customer service” when residents with polluted tap water need to start using those bottles as their main home water supply. 

“Obviously if, out of convenience, you, one day a week, need to get a cold bottle of water because you’re sweating to death – that’s very different than if it’s your primary source of water you drink 365 days a year,” Freise says.

PFAS builds up in the body and has been linked to health problems, especially with prolonged exposure. 

New Hampshire recently set the strictest limits in the country on four of the chemicals in public water supplies. Local water systems, wastewater plants and others will have to begin testing for PFAS in water and groundwater this fall.

It’s likely to turn up new areas of contamination that could lead to more residents relying on state-approved bottled water.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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