Contaminants Pervasive in Cape Cod Drinking Water, Research Shows

Posted: 12/27/2013  browse the blog archive
Contaminants Pervasive in Cape Cod Drinking Water, Research Shows

The majority of public drinking water wells tested on Cape Cod, Mass. are contaminated with pharmaceuticals, consumer product chemicals, and other contaminants, according to a recent report by Silent Spring Institute.  Septic systems are likely the main source of the contamination.

Researchers found contaminants in 15 of 20 public wells and two distribution systems.  The most frequently found contaminants were an antibiotic, sulfamethoxadole, and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), a chemical used in stain-resistant and non-stick coatings that is associated with chronic kidney disease.

Cape Cod is particularly vulnerable to contamination because of its shallow, sandy groundwater source. Cape Cod’s wastewater is disposed of on land, primarily in septic systems, in order to protect the coastal marine sanctuary.  The wastewater leaches from septic systems into the aquifer.  According to Silent Spring, this has nationwide implications, as a quarter of U.S. households use septic systems or small community systems to process wastewater, and about 40% of Americans rely on groundwater for drinking water.

Silent Spring advises residents of Cape Cod and other areas to protect their drinking water by pumping septic systems as recommended, properly disposing of medications and other hazardous substances according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and purchasing additive-free household products.

The full study can be found on Silent Spring’s website.  The Chanler Group’s clients sometimes accept a cy pres payment, wherein the defendant makes a donation to Silent Spring Institute, in lieu of additional penalties.

The Chanler Group represents citizen enforcers who, acting in the public interest, commence actions against businesses offering products for sale in California that contain chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm without first providing the health hazard warning required by Proposition 65. Citizen enforcers bringing Proposition 65 actions in the public interest may obtain a Court Judgment imposing civil penalties, an injunction requiring reformulation of products, and/or provision of health hazard warnings. The Chanler Group has represented citizen enforcers of Proposition 65 for more than twenty years.