Gasoline additive found in Charlton drinking water

CHARLTON, Mass. — Dozens of homeowners in Charlton are on edge, wondering if cancer-causing chemicals are in their drinking water.

Those concerns come from  elevated levels of two separate contaminants in the town’s ground water, the first is a gasoline additive MTBE, a carcinogen, the second is a solvent known as 1,4 dioxane, which causes breathing and a number of other health problems

“I’ve lost hair because of it, I get these big rashes on my arms that burn, they sting,” 22-year-old Katie Cunningham said at a packed Board of Health meeting Tuesday.

Many residents have stopped drinking the water, but say they have no choice but to bathe and shower in it.

“I'm very happy that people are getting mad, because I’ve been mad for years,” one resident said.

Contaminated well water has been a problem in Charlton for decades, and it only seems to be getting worse.

“Ours came back at .8, so it was more than twice the limit, in September. Since then I’ve been on bottled water,” Will Gallien said.

The state blames Exxon Mobil for the MTBE in the ground water.

There's no official link yet to the dioxane, but residents believe it's coming from the local landfill

A new round of testing is underway this month in the area of Muggett Hill Road where 45 homes are located.

“Even if people are getting cancer, and it's unrelated, it’s going to go back to that question in their minds, does it come back to because of my well being tainted, or what caused this,” Anna Hill said.

If a well is found to be contaminated, the residents who use water from it are offered water filtration devices and bottled water service.

Residents are asking for municipal water so they do not need to use the wells, but that could take many years and would cost millions of dollars.