Emerging Contaminants Found at Martha's Vineyard Airport

Dec. 3, 2018

PFAS have been found in drinking water surrounding the airport

Water sampling results surrounding the Martha’s Vineyard Airport in West Tisbury, Mass., discovered levels of per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) exceeding Massachusetts safe drinking water guidelines of 70 ppt. Martha’s Vineyard Airport is providing bottled water for some West Tisbury residents in response.

One private well south of the airport found drinking water contamination in excess of the safe drinking water standard, while three other private wells found concentrations of PFAS. The source of the contamination is likely firefighting foam used athe the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, as reported by The Vineyard Gazette.

“We used to spray out on a field but now we spray where it goes into a catch basin to collect it,” said Airport Director Ann Richart. “Every airport that serves airlines in the country is required to use this stuff. This isn’t just a Martha’s Vineyard issue, it’s an every airport issue.”

While there are no federal safe standards for PFAS, the state formed guidelines in June 2018. The airport hired Tetra Tech, an engineering services company, this past spring to test the airport’s groundwater following new research on health risks associated with PFAS, Richart said. The state Department of Environmental Protection and West Tisbury health department have been notified of the drinking water contamination.

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