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Pease Neighbors Hope National PFAS Health Study Spurs More Guidance For Doctors

NHPR file

The federal defense spending authorization bill President Trump signed Monday includes added funding for a national health study on PFAS chemicals – and neighbors of Pease International Tradeport will be the first group studied.

The study will analyze health effects for children and adults exposed to PFAS in the Tradeport's drinking water years ago.

The man-made chemicals have been linked to cancer and other diseases, and were left at Pease by past military operations.

Around 2,000 Pease neighbors had their blood tested for PFAS after the contamination was found in 2014.

Activist Andrea Amico, who co-founded Testing for Pease, says the study will be an important addition to the growing body of research on PFAS and human health. But she says it's not all that exposed people, like her kids, need.

"People really want a medical monitoring program because that can be done today,” she says.

She says medical monitoring would use current and future science to help doctors better treat PFAS-affected patients, by suggesting regular screenings or tests to spot potential health problems as early as possible.

A similar program was used for residents exposed to PFAS -- then known as C8 -- in the Ohio River Valley in 2013. 

Amico says she hopes the federal government will design a national medical monitoring program for PFAS, which states like New Hampshire could follow.

The bill also tells the U.S. military to begin planning more comprehensive PFAS cleanup efforts at installations nationwide, as the Environmental Protection Agency works on new regulations for the chemicals. 

Funding for the study and the authorization act it's part of still must be approved as part of the next federal budget package. 

CORRECTION: An earlier verison of this story incorrectly identified the defense authorization bill as a spending bill. In fact, funding for the authorization bill still needs to be approved by Congress. 

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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