News Feature | December 3, 2018

In Philly Suburb Water Crisis, Tests Reveal Chemicals In Blood

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

hospital reg new

The first blood tests results were released since water contamination in the Philadelphia suburbs came to light, and they provide a glimpse at potential health effects for residents.

“Residents in Bucks and Montgomery Counties who participated in a blood-testing program because their drinking water was contaminated by chemicals on nearby military bases have a dramatically higher presence of some chemicals in their blood than the general U.S. population — in the case of one chemical, five times more than the typical American,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Health mailed the averaged results to the 235 residents in Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington Townships who participated in the testing program, which was completed at the end of September,” the report continued.

The study from the Pennsylvania Department of Health moved forward after hundreds of residents agreed to participate in blood testing, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Results, Per The Report:

The average for one type of PFAS, known as PFHxS, in the Pennsylvania residents sampled was 7.63 micrograms per liter — more than five times the national average. And the 95th percentile for local residents tested was almost nine times higher than the 95th percentile for all U.S. residents. The local average for PFOS was more than double the national average, and PFOA was more than 1.5 times the national average.

The state mailed the results to study participants. The Inquirer obtained the results, which provide “a general idea of the amount of exposure in the community as a whole," per the letter. The state is expected to announce the results to the media in December.

Hope Grosse, an advocate for residents on this issue, weighed in on the study.

"This is a huge indication that something needs to be done, that the [Department of Defense] needs to start stepping up to the plate and start helping people. I'm grateful these numbers came out, and I sure hope they don't keep suppressing and delaying remediation for people and for the groundwater," she told The Inquirer.

The threat of PFAS contamination has become a high-profile issue in the wake of revelations that military bases and factories have contaminated the water supply with these chemicals in various parts of the country.

“Tens of thousands of people in Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington Townships were among the first to learn that their drinking water was tainted, and scores have reported cases of cancer,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Image credit: "Hospital de la Cruz Roja de Vigo," Contando Estrelas © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/