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pfas

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand was in Portsmouth Friday for a roundtable discussion on safe drinking water.

New Hampshire’s Seacoast region recently has been at the forefront of issues surrounding contaminated drinking water, a result of a class of chemicals known as PFAS that were widely used in firefighting foams, as well as other consumer products.

Inside the Portsmouth Library, Gillibrand told the audience that communities in her home state of New York are also dealing with the fallout of PFAS contamination.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

As federal regulators consider new drinking water standards for toxic PFAS chemicals, military officials are reportedly pushing for less stringent rules.

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning new standards for testing, treatment and cleanup of PFAS contamination.

FLORIANHUAG / FLICKR/CC

Public water system operators are worried about the cost of compliance with new state limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

That was the message from lobbyists at a hearing on the proposals today in Concord.

The PFAS limits the state is proposing would require testing and treatment for the toxic chemicals at public water systems. The up-front cost could be at least $8 million total.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire's U.S. Senators want toxic PFAS chemicals to be officially designated as hazardous substances at Superfund sites.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan are backing a bill in Congress that says sites with PFAS contamination should qualify for federally managed Superfund cleanup.

John K via FLICKR CC

Public hearings begin this week on the state's proposed drinking water regulations for toxic PFAS chemicals.

Regulators have devised standards for four types of PFAS. They would require all public water systems to regularly test and potentially treat for the chemicals.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency says it will review the safety of four New Hampshire Superfund sites in 2019.

This year's reviews, which happen every five years at federally managed toxic waste sites, will include the former Pease Air Force Base and three old industrial sites and dumps in southern New Hampshire.

Joe Pell via Flickr Creative Commons

New England activists and lawmakers say the Environmental Protection Agency's new plan to manage harmful PFAS chemicals isn't aggressive enough.

The EPA says this plan is a broad roadmap of goals for protecting people from exposure to the huge class of likely toxic PFAS chemicals.

These industrial chemicals were used for decades to make non-stick, waterproof and stain-resistant coatings, as well as firefighting foams and other industrial products.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Federal researchers are getting ready to start a major health study of families who drank PFAS chemical-contaminated water at Pease International Tradeport.

The project will be a model for the Centers for Disease Control’s first-ever national health study on the effects of industrial PFAS chemicals.

But the study likely won’t include Portsmouth firefighters. Officials say the kind of exposure they and others like them have had to PFAS is too different from the study of PFAS in community drinking water.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

An effort to fund new public health positions like a state toxicologist and a water quality analyst went before a Senate committee Tuesday.

The idea for the positions comes from the recommendations of two legislative commissions. One was set up to investigate a pediatric cancer cluster on the Seacoast. The other investigated environmentally triggered diseases more broadly.

Senator Shaheen

The Environmental Protection Agency will reportedly not issue hard limits on two likely toxic industrial chemicals that have contaminated parts of New Hampshire.

The report from Politico is drawing criticism from advocates and lawmakers.

The EPA is still finalizing its national management plan for PFAS chemicals, which was due at the end of last year.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: January 11, 2019

Jan 10, 2019

With the governor signaling support for offshore wind energy, we talk with environmental reporter Annie Ropeik. We also discuss new limits on PFAS chemicals and arsenic in drinking water.  The state rolled-out the new program of "doorways" to addiction treatment services in a series of meetings around the state. And potential 2020 presidential primary candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, will be the keynote speaker for a N.H. Democratic party event in February. Lauren Chooljian, NHPR Political Reporter, State of Democracy, is guest host.

NHPR

The state’s public water systems might have to pay millions of dollars to comply with new proposed limits on certain industrial chemicals in drinking water – even as advocates say the proposals aren’t strict enough.

FILE

The state has released its plans for new limits on four types of likely harmful PFAS chemicals in public water systems.

The new regulations would apply to four of the thousands of known PFAS chemicals.

They were once widely used to manufacture firefighting foams and protective coatings on everything from furniture, carpets and clothing to cookware and food packaging. 

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

New state limits on four types of PFAS chemicals in drinking water are due out New Year's Day.

The proposals, if approved, would create new treatment and testing requirements for all public water systems in the state.

Creative Commons

Firefighters are asking the federal government for more attention on how their exposures to PFAS chemicals may be harming their health.

Diane Cotter of Rindge has been trying to shed light on how the industrial chemicals may be sickening firefighters since her husband – then a firefighter in Worcester, Mass. – was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014.

He had to retire from the force, but is now cancer-free.

FLORIANHUAG / FLICKR/CC

Drinking water activists want the New England states to try a new way of regulating PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

The Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation and local nonprofits want all six New England states to find a way to more aggressively regulate PFAS chemicals.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR News

Veterans and families who lived and worked at the former Pease Air Force Base want the government to begin collecting data about their disease rates and possible ties to chemical exposures on the installation.   

At a forum in an aircraft hangar Friday, dozens of people stood at a microphone and told an Air National Guard colonel about their health problems and their experiences at the base.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

The EPA says new types of nonstick industrial chemicals might not be much safer than their predecessors – raising alarm in parts of New Hampshire.

For years, companies used fluorinated chemicals like PFOA and PFOS to make nonstick, waterproof or stain-resistant products.

Now, science suggests those chemicals can harm human health even at very low levels.

So industry has replaced them with similar compounds called GenX. They're all part of the PFAS family.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Environmental Protection Agency is honoring a water clean up activist on the Seacoast for her community organizing.

Testing for Pease co-founder Andrea Amico is this year’s only recipient of the EPA’s national award for citizen excellence in community involvement.

It’s been four years since Amico learned her family was exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS chemicals at Pease International Tradeport.

Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / https://flic.kr/p/cG7qFL

Right now, state regulators are doing something they almost never do: writing their own limit on a chemical contaminant in drinking water.

It's called a maximum contaminant level, or MCL. In the past, like most states, New Hampshire has used federal standards as its default MCLs.

State regulators say they wrote one other drinking water standard, for the lead-based gasoline additive MTBE, in 2000. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: October 12, 2018

Oct 12, 2018

The debate season is well underway, and in the first congressional district, the two candidates are staking out their differences - but both agree, the historic nature of their race is no big deal.  More than two dozen sites at the Saint Gobain plant are under scrutiny for contamination. And the bear-human conflicts continues this fall, with Fish & Game making the decision to shoot two bear cubs in Manchester. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Some southern New Hampshire residents are furious the state isn’t acting more quickly to control PFAS chemical pollution. They heard the latest from regulators Wednesday night at a public meeting in Merrimack.

Two years after Merrimack’s Saint Gobain factory disclosed major PFAS air emissions, residents still feel the plant poses an immediate threat.

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.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

 

The state has ordered the Saint Gobain plastics manufacturer to install air pollution controls on its Merrimack factory. 

 

The facility’s smokestacks are thought to be the source of high levels of PFAS chemicals that contaminated nearby drinking water wells two years ago. 

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.

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