HAVERHILL — A Bradford company that sells water in stores throughout New England has installed a new filtration system in light of an advisory by New Hampshire health officials that its spring water contained high levels of chemicals used in industrial products such as firefighting foam.
Nancy Sterling, spokeswoman for Spring Hill Dairy Farm, said the company learned of the results of tests conducted by New Hampshire health officials earlier this month and within 48 hours had contracted to install a $100,000 charcoal filtration system that will prevent the chemicals from getting into its spring water. Sterling noted that Spring Hill was under no obligation to install such a system but did so to ensure the safety of its water.
Sterling said the new system went online Monday, July 22, and that no spring water bottled since that date should contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. She said the company has reached out to all of its customers to alert them to the advisory.
The company's water, drawn from a spring and other sources, is sold in numerous stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire under different brand names.
Massachusetts health officials have noted that only Spring Hill spring water bottled before July 24 was included in the advisory. Other types of water, such as distilled and purified water, was not affected.
Health officials in Massachusetts also noted that Spring Hill's spring water did not exceed regulatory standards, and the company's permit in the state remains in good standing.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued an advisory after notification of tests conducted by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, which examined various bottled waters sold in the Granite State.
PFAS are used extensively in industry and consumer product, such as carpets, fabrics, food packaging and other materials resistant to water, grease or stains. The chemicals are common in firefighting foam and cookware.
Given the array of uses of PFAS, most people have been exposed to them at some point, according to the health advisory.
Not all Spring Hill brands list spring water as their source. Water labeled as distilled or purified has not been found to contain elevated levels of PFAS. Health officials said the affected Spring Hill products list their source as “spring water" on the label.
Jim Martin, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, said the department conducted initial testing of bottled water in collaboration with the state's Department of Public Health, which regulates bottled water.
"In anticipation of announcing our final PFAS drinking water standards, which will become effective Sept. 30, we thought it was wise to go out and test bottled waters," he said. "The first list of 20 samples was completed June 28 and we've since updated that list."
New Hampshire's report on its tests noted that Spring Hill Farm contracted to have a filtration system installed with an estimated startup date of July 22.
Sterling said the source of the PFAS in Spring Hill's spring water appears to be from an on-site source. She said a sample taken after the installation of the filtration system was sent to a lab but those results won't be available until the end of this week.
Spring Hill also sells distilled Haverhill municipal water, including at CVS, under the name, "Just the Basics" purified water.
Spring Hill spring water is sold under the following labels, according to Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
365 Spring Water, Whole Foods
Acadia Spring Water, Stop and Shop
Best Yet Spring Water, convenience stores
Cumberland Farms Spring Water
IGA Spring Water, various markets
Ice Canyon Spring Water, CVS
Food Club Spring Water
Market Basket Spring Water
Natures Pride Spring Water, Garelick Farms
Oakhurst Spring Water, various markets
Roche Brothers Spring Water
Shaw Spring Water
Spring Hill Spring Water, various markets
Sold Outside of Massachusetts:
Golden Flow Spring Water
Hy-Top Spring Water
Native Brands Spring Water