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Carwash possibly polluting water with PFCs

NORTH HAMPTON, N.H. — New water tests indicate a carwash may be polluting local drinking water.


NORTH HAMPTON, N.H. — According to, the Department of Environmental Services (DES) said that a new groundwater test indicated that Pro-Wash, a local carwash and detailing business, is leaching perfluorochemicals (PFCs) — chemicals found in many household materials like Teflon that are linked to certain cancers — into a local drinking water supply.

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Some elected officials contest, however, that the Coakley landfill Superfund cleanup site is instead the source of the PFCs, the article continued.

While officials have said Pro-Wash has not violated any regulations regarding PFCs, test results show that the groundwater around the carwash had PFC levels exceeding 9,000 parts per trillion (ppt), the article noted.

Aquarion Water Company recently shut down Well 6, located 3,300 feet away from the carwash, due to elevated PFC levels showing 87 ppt and 57.71 ppt for all PFCs combined in different rounds of sampling this past summer, the article added.

“PFC levels in Aquarion water have not exceeded the state and federal health advisory level of 70 ppt, which only applies to two types of PFCs, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoro-octanesulfonate (PFOS),” the article reported.


Water test results have shown 24.01 ppt for those two PFCs in Well 6 and lower levels in the rest of Aquarion’s system, the article noted.

Furthermore, DES has said there is not enough evidence to suggest that Coakley is the source of the PFCs, since of all the wells tested are between the landfill and Well 6 — those closest to Well 6 had higher PFC readings.

Brandon Kernen of the DES Drinking Water Source Protection Program said that, unlike other carwashes in the state which use a sanitary sewer or holding tank, Pro-Wash discharges into a leach field, the article stated.


“There are high levels here. It’s a concern,” Kernen said. “It would behoove them to look at controlling the type of chemicals or to find a very strong treatment system to remove it.”

Kernan said that DES has met with the Pro-Wash owners to discuss how the carwash can improve its treatment system, the article noted.

However, since the carwash has not violated any regulations, Kernan added, it is unclear how much authority DES has in directing companies that use materials containing PFCs, the article continued.

At the same time, State Representative Mindi Messmer, D-Rye, a hydrogeologist, said that wells close to Coakley between the landfill and Well 6 have lower PFC readings than those closer to Well 6 because plumes do not necessarily travel continuously, the article added.


She claimed the landfill has been there for decades and that PFCs may have travelled to Aquarion water some time ago but still remain since PFCs do not degrade, the article noted.

“Until they prove it’s from something else, they can’t disprove it,” Messmer said.

Read the full article here.

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