Toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl, or PFAS, chemicals have been found in the drinking water of several schools in Stow, Massachusetts, about 21 miles west of Boston.
PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancer, low birth weight, and a range of diseases, according to the Boston Globe.
Students at the schools, which include The Center School and Hale Middle School in the Nashoba Regional School District, were advised not to drink the water or wash their hands using the faucets. Food preparation for cafeteria lunches has also been moved off campus.
The discovery comes after the state Department of Environmental Management launched a new targeted testing program to identify PFAS in public water systems. The Nashoba Regional School District was the first to be tested.
Only water systems that serve more than 10,000 people are required by the federal government to be tested for PFAS chemicals, but environmental officials in Massachusetts urged smaller public systems to be tested as well.
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release new national limits for PFAS chemicals by the end of the year.
Learn more about PFAS chemicals here.