CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - The City of Cambridge has taken proactive steps to reroute one of the city’s drinking water sources after rising levels of so-called “forever chemicals” were detected in Fresh Pond.

These chemicals, also known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, don’t break down in the environment and can seep into community water supplies. They often come from products like nonstick pans, waterproof clothing, fast food containers and firefighting foam. They can cause health effects like birth defects, decreased fertility and an increased risk of some cancers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Obviously, the most sensitive people in Cambridge, the immune deficient, pregnant women, infants, based on the regulation they should never drink water above 20 PPGs,” said Sam Corda, managing director of the Cambridge Water Department.

Cambridge is temporarily switching its water supply to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority until it can install new filters that should keep PFAS levels well below acceptable standards. The high PFAS test results emerged as a result of better testing methods and higher standards for safe drinking water.

“We have interconnections in the city underground, and we’re just going to open a few valves. In a matter of hours, we should be fully on MWRA water starting tomorrow,” Corda said.

Acting City Manager Owen O’Riordan said that Massachusetts has some of the strictest PFAS water quality standards in the country.

“Our expectation is, once we switch to the new filtration system, that our results will be well below the standards that have been established by the state,” he said. “We are confident at that point in time that our water will be safe.”

This isn’t just a Cambridge issue. Dozens of communities across the state have had to update their systems like Cambridge to keep up with changing regulations.

Cambridge officials said they have received calls from residents worried about their water quality. They have responded by telling them that the situation is under control.

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