Water Contamination

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A plan to offer loans for New Hampshire towns to cover the cost of new limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water got bipartisan support from state lawmakers Tuesday.

The state's strict PFAS limits were supposed to take effect last fall, but are on hold under a court injunction.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Air Force says it will study whether people stationed at Pease Air Base in recent decades got cancer at unusually high rates.

Former service members have been calling for a study like this for more than a year.

Janet Bland via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/22SfbXM

New Hampshire legislators this session will consider requiring bottled water brands in the state to be tested and labeled for toxic PFAS chemicals.

The industrial compounds have been linked to health problems and can persist in the environment, but aren't subject to binding federal regulations.

Last year, New Hampshire regulators found high levels of PFAS chemicals in local bottled water brands sourced from a spring in Massachusetts.

Andreas Levers via Flickr CC

A judge has ruled that New Hampshire will have to stop enforcing its strict new limits on PFAS chemicals at the end of the year – but the case is far from settled.

Merrimack Superior Court judge Richard McNamara’s ruling, which was provided to NHPR, grants an injunction requested by the major chemical company and PFAS-maker 3M, as well as local stakeholders.

But it won’t take effect until Dec. 31, the judge writes, “so that either party may seek immediate review of this decision in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.”

(Read the full ruling below.)

Via Kearsarge.org

A New Hampshire school district will test all its drinking water after one faucet was found to have high levels of a toxic chemical that has raised health concerns.

Kearsarge Regional School District Superintendent Winfried Feneberg said Tuesday the district shut down all faucets at the middle school and is providing bottled water.

The moves come after one faucet at the middle school was found to have levels of the chemical known as PFOA at 153 parts per trillion, well above the state drinking water standard.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state holds a public hearing tonight about a new air emissions permit for the Saint-Gobain plastics factory in Merrimack. The facility is being held responsible for contaminating nearby drinking water with PFAS chemicals from its smokestacks.

The proposed air permit would dictate pollution controls for those stacks to prevent more chemicals from settling into soil and groundwater.

Images by John 'K' via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/9sRHR1

As the state works toward sharply lowering its limit on arsenic in drinking water by mid-2021, recent testing data shows dozens of public water systems will likely be out of compliance with that new standard.

New Hampshire is only the second state, after New Jersey, where lawmakers have approved a lower arsenic standard of 5 parts per billion. That’s half of the current federal default of 10 ppb.

NHPR Photo

Senator Jeanne Shaheen will be in Portsmouth Friday to talk about an upcoming federal health study on the effects of PFAS chemicals.

The Centers for Disease Control are piloting their first national PFAS study on people who were exposed to the compounds at Pease International Tradeport.

wikimedia commons

New Hampshire was hit with a lawsuit over its new limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water on the same day the new regulation took effect.

The suit, filed in Merrimack Superior Court, comes from the Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District, a farmer in Center Harbor and a fertilizer company in Holderness, as well as 3M, the original maker of PFAS compounds.

File Photo

A trial run of the first major federal health study on PFAS chemicals is ready to begin at Pease International Tradeport.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen's office said Thursday that the project at the former air base in Portsmouth had received final approval from federal budget officials.

High levels of PFAS were found in drinking water at Pease in 2014. Research has linked the industrial chemicals to a range of diseases.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

This summer, towns in southern New Hampshire are breaking ground on what will become the state’s largest regional water system. It is being built in part with money from massive settlements between New Hampshire and gas companies, including ExxonMobil, that used to produce MtBE, a chemical that polluted local drinking water. 

wikimedia commons

New restrictions on PFAS and what that means for Granite State communities. These chemicals have been found in public water supplies around the state. Used for decades in such products as Teflon and Gortex, they've been linked to serious health problems, spurring communities to take action, including lawsuits. Now, after intense pressure from community activists, New Hampshire officials have proposed some of the lowest PFAS limits in the country. We'll find out what's in store now, in terms of testing, following the health effects of these chemicals, and more. 

Michigan.gov

State environmental officials on Friday proposed what would be some of the lowest limits in the country for four types of PFAS chemicals in public water supplies and groundwater.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Regulators say there aren't unsafe or increasing levels of PFAS chemical contamination in drinking water wells around the Seacoast's Coakley Landfill.

But many residents and state legislators disagree with that analysis – and they’re unhappy that contamination hasn’t been addressed more quickly at the Superfund site.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

The U.S. Senate will vote next month to fund more regulation and study of the effects of PFAS chemical contamination

Many of the provisions come from New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who helped get the policies included in the latest National Defense Authorization Act.

The full Senate is expected take up the annual spending bill in the coming weeks. The provisions include a ban on military use of firefighting foams that contain PFAS after 2022.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Residents in southern New Hampshire could be looking at higher water bills because of a new federal tax on private water utilities.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Public comment closes today on New Hampshire’s proposed limits for four types of toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

The Department of Environmental Services has suggested recent science from Minnesota could lead to stricter standards for testing and treatment of PFAS at public water systems.

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.

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.

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 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.

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. 

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.

Dennis Amith via Flickr CC

New Hampshire schools have until next summer to get in compliance with the state’s new lead testing law. But advocates hope schools won’t wait to begin the process.

Exposure to almost any amount of lead can cause developmental delays and other health issues in young children.

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

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.

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.

The state will require more testing for PFAS chemicals at another former industrial site in Merrimack – the Harcros Chemical site, which is now the town's Watson Park.

PFAS-type chemicals are man-made, don't biodegrade and have been linked to a range of serious health problems. Regulators are investigating their presence at dozens of sites statewide.

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.

Pages