January 31, 2017
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is mailing perfluorochemicals (PFCs) blood test results to individuals from different communities affected by PFC drinking water contamination who had their blood tested for PFCs. These test results include 175 participants who lived on or worked at the Pease Tradeport and 147 participants from several Southern NH communities where PFCs have been found to have contaminated private drinking water wells. The regions of exposure, Pease and Southern NH, are not connected and the potential sources of PFCs are different.
A summary of the preliminary results can be found at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/pfcs/documents/prelim-results-sum-013117.pdf .
“Finding PFCs in drinking water has understandably raised concerns among residents about the possible impact to their health,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire State Epidemiologist. “While our understanding of how PFCs affect human health is limited, we hope the blood test results will provide people with helpful information about their levels of exposure so they and their healthcare providers can be proactive about their health.”
The PFC blood test is not a medical test that will help determine the cause of a health problem or provide information on treatment. The blood test will tell participants how much of each PFC is in their blood at the time of the test. Blood testing provides participants with information about their individual levels of PFC exposure, and some individuals have expressed interest in knowing their blood levels because it may provide information in the future as research continues and more science emerges. Due to uncertainty about the health effects of PFCs, further study is needed to know how PFCs in a person’s body may impact their health.
PFCs are a family of manmade chemicals that have been used for decades as an ingredient to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water, such as non-stick cookware, weather resistant outdoor clothing and gear, and stain resistant carpeting. PFCs have been found in drinking water supplies in several areas of the State and DHHS is offering PFC blood testing for qualifying individuals. Because PFCs have been widely used in many different industrial and home products, the source of PFC contamination is different between communities. Individuals receiving bottled water in the Merrimack, Litchfield, Bedford, and Amherst areas of investigation qualify for DHHS sponsored blood testing. People who lived, worked or attended child care on the Pease Tradeport are also eligible.
In May 2014, a well on the Pease Tradeport was found to have higher levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS). The affected well was immediately shut down. In response to the Pease community concerns about exposure to these chemicals, NH DHHS conducted two rounds of PFC blood testing between April and October 2015 during which 1,578 individuals had their blood tested for various PFCs. The report of these test results can be found at: www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/investigation-pease.htm.
Beginning in March 2016, PFOA was discovered in private drinking water wells in several Southern NH communities initially around the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack. Additional communities subsequently have had drinking water tested for PFC contamination: http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pfoa.htm.
DHHS is also testing a random sample of 200 people who are customers of the Merrimack Village District (MVD) public water system to address concerns about possible low-level exposure to PFCs. MVD participants will receive their results at the conclusion of the assessment.
For more information on the DHHS PFC blood testing program, please visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/pfcs/blood-testing.htm or call the DHHS inquiry line at 603-271-9461. For those who would like help interpreting their lab reports, the New England Poison Center is ready to assist in answering questions. They can be reached at 1-800-562-8236. For information related to your own health, it is best to consult with your healthcare provider.
To read more about the investigation and the blood testing program, visit the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/investigation-pease.htm. To learn more about the Department of Environmental Services’ testing of drinking water due to PFCs visit http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pfoa.htm.
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