News Feature | August 9, 2017

In New Hampshire, Citizens Take PFC Concerns Into Their Own Hands

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

merrimack river reg new.jpg

Concern that government regulators are failing to adequately address perfluorinated compound (PFC) contamination has prompted New Hampshire locals to begin their own research into the health effects of these pollutants.

Residents near Merrimack, NH, learned last year that their water had been contaminated by PFCs as a result of operations at a plastics factory owned by Saint-Gobain, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

Locals have formed a group called Citizens for Clean Water. A pillar of their work is a health survey aimed at uncovering the health effects of PFC, specifically perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), contamination in the region.

A flyer from the group explains the effort, per the radio report: “Merrimack PFOA Concerns Health Survey. Citizens for Clean Water is conducting a citizen-led household survey to document potential impacts of PFOA exposure in the Merrimack area.”

The flyer directs readers to an online questionnaire. The main questions, per the report, are: “How long have you lived here?” and “Are you sick?”

Group member Carol DiPirro called out the state for inadequately addressing the issue.

“I just cannot believe that the state is not worried about the people in this town and other towns that are popping up,” she said, per the report. “Other states have taken it upon themselves to look at the science.”

Jim Martin, public information officer for New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services, defended the state’s response, calling it “by far the largest groundwater investigation that we’ve ever undertaken in the state.”
Some other states have done more to crack down on PFCs compared to New Hampshire or the federal government. The federal guideline for PFCs is 70 parts per trillion in drinking water.

“States including Vermont and New Jersey have set lower, more protective drinking water standards. Vermont’s drinking water standard is 20 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS [perfluorooctanesulfonic acid],” New Hampshire Public Radio reported.

New Hampshire has at least five PFC contamination sites, according to a research project by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University in Boston. The project includes an interactive map highlighting where PFCs have been detected. Released this year, the study shows PFCs are found in drinking water for 15 million Americans in 27 states.

To read more about efforts to eliminate PFC contamination visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.

Image credit: "IMG_20130413_110800.jpg," Charlene McBride © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/