News Feature | August 1, 2017

PFCs Targeted In New Hampshire Legislation

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

After months of wrangling in the legislature, New Hampshire officials approved three water laws this month.

Two of the laws tackle the issue of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), a persistent challenge for New Hampshire water managers, according to New Hampshire Public Radio. A third bill commissions a water quality study.

Amherst, NH, is one location in the state struggling with PFC contamination. One of the new laws “will allocate $5 million dollars from the state’s water trust to remedy contamination in Amherst. A year ago, the state found PFCs in private wells surrounding the former TCI plastics plant there,” public radio reported.

Amherst is not the only PFC contamination site in New Hampshire. “In Merrimack, water contamination from the Saint-Gobain Plastics plant pushed public water officials to keep two wells offline early last year. Earlier this week, public schools in Merrimack tested at 17 parts per trillion of PFOA — below the EPA’s advisory level, but nearing Vermont’s more conservative regulatory limits. A bill to reduce New Hampshire's limits stalled this legislative session,” the report said.

New Hampshire has at least five PFC contamination sites, according to a research project by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) 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.

New Hampshire officials are also seeking congressional action on PFCs. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, is pushing for “a national health study on the health effects of perfluorochemicals,” New Hampshire Public Radio reported.

The U.S. EPA issued a health advisory last year about exposure to PFCs as various towns wage high-profile battles against the pollutants. PFCs are industrial contaminants and research has tied them to cancer.

“The 70 ppt level recommended by the EPA [last year] was a dramatic decrease over the agency’s prior, short-term recommended limit of 400 ppt,” The Intelligencer reported.

To read more about PFCs in waterways visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.