NHDES Meeting in Litchfield to Discuss Drinking Water Test Results

March 18, 2016


by Kaylee Murphy

On Feb. 29, the Merrimack Village Water District was notified by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services of the detection of low levels of PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) in Merrimack.

According to the NHDES, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics found 0.03 micrograms per liter in samples taken at their facility on Daniel Webster Highway.  Part of their investigation includes testing some of the private wells in Litchfield.  The results will not be known until Friday or early next week.

The NHDES, along with the Division of Public Health Services, will hold a public information meeting on Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Litchfield Middle School cafeteria regarding the PFOA chemical that has been found in water wells around the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack.  Another public information meeting will occur on March 23 at 7 p.m. at the Mastricola Elementary School all-purpose room in Merrimack.  In 2014, PFOAs were detected at 0.042 micrograms per liter in wells in Merrimack that provide water to Saint-Gobain.

Currently, no enforceable drinking standard exists for PFOA, although the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of water has established a Provisional Health Advisory of 0.4 micrograms per liter.  This Provisional Health Advisory will be under review and is expected to be revised this spring.

Common household items like non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, and weather-resistant outdoor clothing may contain PFOA.  PFOA is a member of a family of manmade chemicals, known as perfluorochemicals (PFCs), used for decades as ingredients that make products resistant to heat, oil, stains, and water.

Most U.S citizens do have some level of PFOA in their system.  It has been speculated that PFOA can increase the risk of specific cancers, tumors and other health problems; however, the EPA states that the existing evidence is too limited to demonstrate a strong link between cancer in humans and PFCs.

Water is being tested near Saint-Gobain Facilities in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., and North Bennington, Vt., due to concerns of PFOA.  The pollutant has been removed from the water in Hoosick Falls according to Gov. Cuomo.  Nationwide sampling has been done by the EPA for PFCs as a preliminary step toward determining an enforceable standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 2014.