At Merrimack PFOA Meeting, Residents Still Looking For Answers

Jun 30, 2016

Credit Ceyhun (Jay) Isik /

State officials held a public meeting Wednesday evening in Merrimack to update residents on the steps they’re taking to address groundwater contamination linked to the Saint-Gobain plastics plant.

But many residents were less than satisfied with the answers they got.

This was the latest meeting between officials and residents of Merrimack and surrounding towns impacted by contamination from the chemical PFOA, which has been linked to several health problems, including cancer.

There was clearly an effort by officials to show that progress was being made in addressing the issue. Of 579 wells tested in town, results came back from 527; of those about 30 percent showed PFOA concentrations in excess of the EPA-recommended limit.

But many residents wanted clearer answers on whether they’ve suffered adverse health effects. 

A town official read comments submitted by residents. This was one of them:

“We don't’ know what we've consumed in our lifetimes. What if we have health issues linked to PFCs?”

State Epidemiologist Benjamin Chan responded that there weren’t easier answers to these kinds of questions.

“It’s going to be very difficult to say that any health condition somebody has now or in the future is because of PFC exposure. But I understand the question and concern, and it’s important for people to talk to their healthcare provider.”

Officials said they plan to begin offering free blood testing in affected areas next month and to convene additional public meetings.