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Perchlorate Shows Up In Wells At Sweetwood

Oct 15, 2004 | North Adams Transcript

For the first time, routine quarterly testing has revealed the presence of perchlorate in wells at Sweet Brook Transitional Care and Living Centers and Sweetwood Continuing Care Retirement, Northern Berkshire Health Systems officials announced Thursday.

The test results, received by the health system on Wednesday from Berkshire Enviro-Labs, showed low levels of perchlorate contamination in the wells with a level of 0.49 parts per billion.

All previous quarterly tests of the wells showed no presence of perchlorate.

In May, perchlorate levels in well water at Mount Greylock Regional High School were found to exceed one part per billion, with 5.23 and 5.05 parts per billion of the chemical in the south well, near the cafeteria, and 1.14 and 1.03 parts per billion in the north well.

The state Department of Environmental Protection uses a 1.0 parts per billion level as its basis for the need to notify the public.

"It's a level that doesn't require any action on our part, but we are choosing to do several things," said Paul Hopkins, spokesman for the health system.

The water will be tested again to confirm the result, and the people who live and work at Sweet Brook and Sweetwood have been notified of the result, he said.

Hopkins said the discovery of perchlorate in Sweet Brook and Sweetwood's wells reinforces the need for the health system to work collaboratively with Mount Greylock Regional, the town of Williamstown and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute "to move quickly toward a public water supply solution."

In a prepared statement, Northern Berkshire Health Systems' CEO John C. J. Cronin said that according to federal and state standards, the water is safe to drink.

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical. Exposure to perchlorate has been found to be a possible cause of thyroid disease, and is commonly used in fireworks, munitions and rocket fuel.

Levels over one part per billion can be harmful to "sensitive populations," such as pregnant women, children and people who have health problems or compromised thyroid conditions, while levels of 18 parts per million are considered a health risk for the general population.


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