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0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8f4d0000NHPR’s ongoing coverage of water contamination at the former Pease Air Force Base and in the communities surrounding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack. We’ll keep you updated on day to day developments, and ask bigger questions, such as:What do scientists know about the health effects of perfluorochemicals like PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS?How are policy makers in New Hampshire responding to these water contaminants?How are scientists and policymakers communicating potential risks?How are other states responding to similar contaminations?

Epidemiologists Say Pease Contaminant's Health Risks Are Known

A community advisory board concerned about water contamination on Pease Tradeport heard from two epidemiologists Tuesday night in Portsmouth.  

Courtney Carignan studies environmental contaminants at Harvard’s School of Public Health. She says even though the contaminant found in a well at Pease is in a sort of regulatory limbo with the EPA, the contaminant's health effects are known.

Increased exposure to perfluorochemicals PFOS and PFOA,  Carignan says, has been associated with "decreased immune function, delayed puberty,  increased cholesterol, and increased odds of endocrine sensitive cancers such as testicular cancer as well as other types of cancer such as kidney among women."

The likelihood of getting these uncommon cancers remains very low, however, even for those with increased risk due to exposure to PFOS or PFOA. 

NH DHHS has repeated that health risks associated with exposure to PFCs are unknown.

Carignan also told residents and city staff that the individuals facing the most risk are those who were exposed in utero. 

Contamination of the Haven Well on Pease likely began between 1970 and 1990. It was shut down a year ago after a new EPA rule led to well sampling.  

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