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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?

N.H. Eyes Quick Timeline For New PFAS Limits In Drinking Water

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Joe Shlabotnik/flickr
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The state says it wants to propose new limits on certain industrial chemicals in drinking water by the start of next year.

It comes after this week's big regional summit on the chemicals, known collectively as PFAS.

At the meeting, New Hampshire residents called for state and federal agencies to manage PFAS contamination more aggressively.

Now, the state Department of Environmental Services says they expect Gov. Chris Sununu to soon sign a bill that could ease some concerns about PFAS.

In part, the bill (which has near-identical House and Senate versions) would let DES hire a toxicologist and a human health risk assessor.

Those officials would craft new maximum contaminant levels for four types of PFAS chemicals in drinking water by January 1st, 2019.

This would require public water systems to routinely test for chemicals known as PFOA, PFOS, PFNA and PFHxS, and to respond to any elevated levels.

It could be more proactive than the PFAS standard the state uses now, which only applies to PFOS and PFOA, and mainly kicks in after problems are found.

The chemicals the bill focuses on are the same as the Centers for Disease Control highlighted in a recent study.

The CDC suggested risk levels for the chemicals, which would aid in public health investigations but not serve as regulations or formal limits.

PFNA and PFHxS are almost entirely unregulated now. In 2016, New Hampshire adopted the EPA’s advice of a 70 part per trillion groundwater limit on PFOA and PFOS, separately or in combination.

In setting the new drinking water limits, DES commissioner Robert Scott says in a statement they would weigh the latest science, including the CDC report, as well “practical considerations” such as cost, technical feasibility and prevalence of the chemicals in New Hampshire.

Thousands of non-biodegradable industrial chemicals fall under the PFAS category. They were common in myriad products until the early 2000s, and have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems

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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