Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl-what?!

Catherine Carter headshot

Author: Catherine Carter, Manager (Email)


PFAS Listening Sessions with the Town of Nantucket

PFAS has been a hot topic in many communities as we learn more about the presence of this class of substances with unique chemical and physical properties that make many of them extremely persistent and mobile in the environment. The Town of Nantucket has been facilitating a series of community listening sessions related to PFAS since August 2021 and will continue into next spring. Raftelis is supporting the Town’s work, which has focused on reviewing activities underway in the Town, building the Town’s awareness of the issues that are most important to residents, and creating a space for residents to engage with subject matter experts.

While more research is needed to understand the link between exposure to PFAS and human health effects, some studies (primarily on animals) have found linked health effects, such as fertility issues, increased risk of thyroid disease and other types of cancer, changes to the immune system, and high cholesterol. The Town has several initiatives and partnerships underway to better understand and limit the presence of PFAS on the island, including extension of public water service and long-term solid waste planning.

The listening sessions we’ve facilitated have been virtual to date, with the first split between presentations to provide context and break-out sessions to gain a better understanding of the questions that residents have related to PFAS.  The second session included update presentations by the Town and a section hosted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which shared how the state is addressing PFAS.  A third, in-person session is planned for early in 2022. We use a visual facilitator for our work to help capture the conversation in a way that resonates with participants. Given the amount of work happening in many communities on this topic with the Town’s permission we thought we’d share the input the Town is receiving to date.