Sustainability and Social Justice

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Professor Timothy Downs, D.Env.


PFAS, Contamination, Fish, Surface Water, Standards, Policy


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are emerging contaminants of concern with potential for adverse effects on both human and environmental health. Hence, long-chain PFAS compounds used in legacy aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) are being phased out, resulting in the stockpiling of them at various commercial installations. PFAS contaminated runoff from these facilities has the potential to contaminate nearby surface water bodies and the fish inhabiting them. An analytical approach was used to identify surface water bodies in Massachusetts that are habitats for fish susceptible to PFAS contamination and where said fish are also popularly consumed by locals – thereby representing a preliminary assessment of potential human health exposure and associated risks. The results show several clusters of these installations across the state. Thus, there is a conceivable risk of PFAS contamination to persons who regularly fish nearby and eat what they catch. As Massachusetts does not currently have any standards or guidelines for PFAS in surface water or fish tissue, the state would greatly benefit from researching the need for regulatory criteria and implementing pertinent policies.



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