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Cloudy Water And Notices Warning Of Elevated PFAS Levels Have Woburn Residents Worried Their Water Isn't Safe

WOBURN (CBS) - Two separate issues have residents questioning the safety of their water in Woburn.

Over the last couple of days, many people have reported cloudy water coming out of their faucets. This comes at the same time residents got at a letter about high levels of chemicals in the water detected back in the summer and fall.

Long-time Woburn resident Debbie Fagan has had murky water in her home this week.

"It almost looked like someone had poured in paint with the water," Fagan said. "I noticed over the last couple of days it was cloudy and had a white film to it almost."

Resident Stacy Mannke also has murky-looking water.

"Very white and cloudy," Mannke said.

Mayor Scott Galvin says the reason for the murkiness is a change in the weather and oxygen in the water. He said the cloudy water is unrelated to a letter that went out to residents this week about the level of PFAS chemicals in the water.

PFAS chemicals, which are commonly called "forever chemicals," are common in consumer products like non-stick pans and some firefighting foam. They have been linked to a series of adverse health conditions, including some cancers.

Massachusetts considers anything above 20 nanograms of PFAS per liter of water to be unsafe.

According to the letter residents received from the city's water department, Woburn's water testing for the third quarter of the year showed 24 nanograms per liter, which is above the level the state says is safe.

(Graphic: Town of Woburn)

The letter from the city said residents in sensitive groups - like pregnant or nursing women, infants and people diagnosed by their health care provider with a compromised immune system - shouldn't consume, drink or cook with water when the level of PFAS is above 20 nanograms per liter.

According to Woburn's Water Department, in October the P-FAS level remained above the level deemed acceptable by the state before falling to an acceptable level in November.

(Graphic: Town of Woburn)

Mayor Galvin says the levels are still a concern and the city is working to clear the water. The process could take anywhere from 18 to 24 months.

Many residents have questioned the timing of the letter saying they received it months after the water was considered not safe.

Galvin says the letter sent to residents about P-FAS levels is in accordance with the department of environmental protection's notification requirements.

But between receiving this notice and the way the water looks, some residents are hesitant even to turn on the faucet.

"At first, I was like, this is a coincidence that my water is cloudy and it received this notice today," Mannke said.

WBZ-TV has reached out to the state for comment on this story, and we will continue to follow this.


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