pfas

N.H. DES

 

State environmental officials will update Merrimack-area residents Wednesday night about progress on cleaning up PFAS chemical contamination around the Saint Gobain factory.

 

They will give a status report on work to connect residents with contaminated wells to public water. And they will talk about long-term plans to monitor contamination and regulate air emissions at the factory. 

 

The Silent Spring Institute will study how PFAS chemicals affected the health of children in Portsmouth and on Cape Cod.

The National Institutes of Health gave Silent Spring $2.6 million for the study.

In some parts of the country people are learning their drinking water contains pollution from a group of chemicals called Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). These chemicals have been linked to illnesses, including cancer. But a lot of questions remain including how exactly they affect people's health and in what doses.

These chemicals have been around for decades but the issue gained urgency in recent years as water suppliers tested for and found PFAS pollution as part of an Environmental Protection Agency program.

Screenshot via US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

The U.S. Senate held a major hearing on PFAS chemical contamination Wednesday, with testimony from a local advocate.

New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, who sits on the Senate subcommittee that held the hearing, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who was a guest, questioned federal regulators for two hours.

They pushed for answers on the government's plans for more PFAS research, stricter standards and cleanup plans.

File Photo

A Senate committee holds a hearing Wednesday about the federal government's role in the nation's growing PFAS crisis.

Federal regulators and advocates from Michigan and New Hampshire will testify on how the military helped spread the industrial toxins by using firefighting foams.

Town of Merrimack

The state has confirmed unsafe levels of PFAS chemical contamination at a town park and former industrial site in Merrimack.

This comes nearly a year after the site's owner first reported finding the toxins in groundwater at the former chemical plant and tannery.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Officials say fish in a brook near the Coakley Landfill Superfund site are not a risk to public health.

Berry’s Brook was found to contain dangerously high levels of toxic PFAS chemicals in 2017.

Portsmouth and the rest of the Coakley Landfill Group tested the fish in that brook at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency, after public pressure.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency in New England has been tapped to lead the agency's national Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention office.

Alexandra Dunn is a long-time lawyer and environmental justice advocate who’s been the EPA's New England administrator for a little less than a year.

In this and other roles, she's worked with residents, industry and state officials in places like New Hampshire and Vermont to address chemical contamination in drinking water.

File Photo

New Hampshire's senators are joining an effort to hold the U.S. military more accountable for water contamination at sites like Pease International Tradeport.

The senators are co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill called the PFAS Accountability Act, along with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, lead sponsor Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and others.

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation wants more federal study of PFAS chemical contamination in Merrimack.  

The federal lawmakers wrote last week to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control.

That office has helped investigate health effects of PFAS contamination on the Seacoast. Now, the delegation wants them to do the same in Merrimack.

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.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Coakley Landfill on New Hampshire’s Seacoast is back in the headlines, more than 30 years after it became a Superfund site.

Neighbors are again worried the site could be poisoning their drinking water, after a rash of childhood cancer cases nearby and the discovery of dangerously high levels of PFAS chemicals at the landfill.

That’s despite local officials' promises that the landfill is safe, under control and not a threat to nearby residents. In fact, they say the landfill is mostly just misunderstood.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A first-of-its-kind water treatment system has begun filtering high levels of toxic PFAS chemicals from the groundwater at Pease International Tradeport.

It’s the latest, biggest phase of millions of dollars in government response after PFAS was found in a drinking water well at Pease in 2014.


Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A first-of-its-kind water treatment system is up and running at Pease International Tradeport.

The plant uses a new regenerative resin process to scrub extremely high levels of PFAS chemicals out of the groundwater beneath a former military fire training area.

AP

A recent federal study found the Northeast, and most of all New Hampshire, had the highest rate of childhood cancers in the country between 2003 and 2014.

Now, the state's congressional delegation wants to know what public health officials are doing to respond. They requested more information on the issue in a letter this week to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu was on the Seacoast today, signing two bills dealing with chemical contamination and health risks. 

One bill could lead to stricter limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water.  

Sununu spoke at Jenness Beach in Rye, near the Coakley Landfill Superfund site and Pease Tradeport.

Both are PFAS hotspots that have raised health concerns for neighbors.  

FLICKR

At a summit in Exeter last week, residents and EPA officials  met to discuss a class of industrial chemicals known as PFAS. It was the first of several sessions addressing concerns about these toxic substances, which have been linked to cancer, among other health problems.  In New Hampshire, these chemicals have been found at high levels at several sites, including Pease International Tradeport and the Saint Gobain plastics factory in Merrimack, prompting concern among nearby communities. State and Federal officials promised action. 

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

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.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Englanders had a chance to speak out this week about what they want to see in new Environmental Protection Agency rules for industrial chemicals in drinking water – but residents say the proof that they were heard will be in what the regulators do next.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire residents can have their say Monday night about future federal regulations on a class of potentially toxic industrial chemicals called PFAS.

Exeter will host two days of New England-wide public meetings on the issue.

It’s the EPA’s first regional public engagement on its new standards for PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The federal government has published new data about the health risks of industrial chemicals known as PFAS.

The Centers for Disease Control study backs the concerns of some residents in contaminated areas here in New Hampshire, who say federal and state limits on PFAS aren't strict enough.

Many lawmakers, including New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, called for the study’s release after reports that the White House and Environmental Protection Agency had sought to withhold the data.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is joining a legislative bid to get a federal study on certain industrial chemicals released.

The Environmental Protection Agency has reportedly spent months blocking publication of the report, from an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study reportedly shows that PFAS chemicals may pose more risk to humans than the EPA has previously said.

NHDES

State environmental regulators will ask a North Hampton car wash to change how it disposes of used water, after testing showed high levels of potential toxins.

The investigation comes after two types of contaminants – PFAS and 1,4 dioxane – were found last year in a North Hampton well that served Seacoast residents.

The pollutants were under state limits, but Brendan Kernen of the state’s drinking water protection bureau says the well's operator, Aquarion, shut it off anyway.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency will develop new regulations on certain industrial chemicals in drinking water. The substances, called PFAS, have been a problem on New Hampshire's Seacoast and elsewhere.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said at a summit on PFAS in Washington on Tuesday that they’ll talk about the issue in Portsmouth next month.

New Hampshire environmental regulators joined officials from at least 30 other states and tribes at the summit.