Almost three years after high levels of PFAS were detected at a closed lansdillp in South Hero, officials still don’t know where the toxic chemicals at the site came from.  In December, a monitoring well at the landfill showed about 3,570 parts per trillion of PFAS— much higher than the state’s safe standard for drinking water, which is 20 ppt. The chemicals have not been detected in drinking water supplies near the site.

James “Buzz” Surwilo, an environmental analyst with the state’s solid waste program, said it is “really surprising” to find this level of PFAS contamination in a rural landfill, since the chemicals are more common at sites with commercial or industrial waste. “Where this has come from is really anybody’s guess,” he said.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS,” are a family of thousands of chemicals sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally in the environment.  PFAS are linked to health effects including cancer, behavioral and developmental problems in infants and children, fertility and pregnancy problems, and immune system problems.  Vermont regulates the level of five specific PFAS in its drinking water — PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFHpA and PFNA. Any combination greater than 20 ppt is considered toxic.

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Author: Shaun Robinson,