BENNINGTON >> Residents will have more opportunities this spring to have their blood tested for a potentially harmful chemical.
Health officials will hold three additional free blood draw clinics for Bennington-area residents affected by PFOA contamination.
"The blood tests will measure the level of PFOA in an individual's blood, and this can be compared to levels measured by CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for adults and older children in the U.S.," according to a news release issued Wednesday by the state Department of Health (DOH). "Most adults have low levels of PFOA in their blood."
A clinic for students returning from college will be held on Tuesday, May 24. Two more clinics for residents will be held Friday, June 24, and Tuesday, June 28, according to the DOH.
The free clinics will be held by appointment only at the DOH offices at 324 Main St. Residents must register by Tuesday, May 31.
To begin the registration process, complete the online survey at: http://survey.healthvermont.gov/s3/PFOA-Blood-Draw-Registration
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center are assisting the state with the tests. The first free clinic was held April 29. At the time, DOH Commissioner Harry Chen said about 100 people were expected to have their blood drawn that day and about 300 people had signed up.
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, has turned up in some 225 private water supplies around Bennington and the village of North Bennington. Also called C8, the man-made chemical was used for years to make the non-stick coating Teflon. Studies have linked PFOA exposure with thyroid disease, high cholesterol, colitis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension, as well as kidney and testicular cancers. Officials suspect the contamination source is the former ChemFab/Saint-Gobain facility, which manufactured woven fiberglass fabrics coated with Teflon. The state is also investigating contamination in Pownal, where PFOA was found in a municipal water supply serving the village of Pownal. Neither the town of Bennington's or village of North Bennington's public water systems contain PFOA.
To be eligible for a blood test: (1) The state Department of Environmental Conservation must have tested the well of the home in North Bennington or Bennington where you live now, or where you lived any time in the past eight years. Or, (2) You currently work or live, or you have ever worked or lived, at the former ChemFab/Saint-Gobain site at 940/1030 Water St. in North Bennington.
It could take several months before the results are reported by the CDC lab, officials say.
"The only thing sent to the CDC are de-identified blood test results," Chen told reporters at an April 29 press event. "We will take care of all the confidential info. We'll also take responsibility for connecting results to the individual and providing the best information we can, which unfortunately, isn't as clear as we're used to."
More information about the PFOA blood test clinics is available at: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/pfoa_clinics.aspx
http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/pfoa.aspx, or call the DOH at 800-439-8550 weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979