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Health Effects of Water Contaminant Worry Pease Tradeport's Neighbors And Tenants

Ian Sane
flickr, creative commons

  There were more questions than answers Wednesday night at a public information meeting at the Pease Tradeport. There, Officials from the Department of Environmental Services, the City of Portsmouth, and the U.S. Air Force tried to address concerns about a contaminant identified in drinking water on Pease. 

Perfllurooctane sulfonic acid, a PFC, is found in Teflon, food wrappers, carpeting – and the firefighting foam once used on the Pease Airforce Base.  It’s an unregulated contaminant that the EPA started paying attention to a few years ago after reports came out showing lab animals given high doses developed cancer.  Now, Newington residents near Pease worry PFCs could leach into their own well water. Meanwhile, people who work on Pease and whose children go to daycare there have concerns the contaminant could stay in their systems for years.

But, as Dr. Tammi Schaefer of the Northern New England Poison Center says, health risks for humans need to be studied further.

The most important thing from our perspective has been done – the water supply has been changed so now we know we are safe.  In terms of health effects, there’s no acute effects to look for.

Schaefer says people who have had contact with even higher levels of PFCs than those working at the Tradeport have been studied over many years, and not yet shown adverse health effects.  

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