PFOA found in Bennington College pond, other surface waters


NORTH BENNINGTON — Although PFOA was found in a local river, creek and pond, state officials say its in amounts unlikely to cause negative health effects to humans and wildlife.

The highest levels were found in the pond on the Bennington College campus. Smaller amounts were found in Paran Creek and the Walloomsac River.

Test results of surface water around North Bennington were announced by Gov. Peter Shumlin's office on Thursday afternoon.

"It is unlikely these concentrations would pose an ecological risk to fish and other aquatic organisms in these waters," Louis Porter, commissioner for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a press release.

State environmental, health and wildlife agencies will test fish in the area "as a precaution," the governor's announcement stated. According to the Department of Health, PFOA levels found in the water bodies are much lower than that would be a risk to people who swim there. PFOA is not believed to accumulate much in fish and many fish across the country do not have detectable levels of PFOA.

Perfluorooctanoic acid, sometimes called C8 but often shortened to PFOA, was found in numerous private wells near North Bennington. The man-made chemical was used for decades when making Teflon. It's been linked to cancer and diseases of the kidney and thyroid, among other health problems. The state limit for PFOA in drinking water is 20 parts per trillion (ppt). Officials are eyeing the former ChemFab facility as the contamination source.

In the Bennington College pond, testing showed PFOA levels of 79 ppt, according to test results released by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Four water samples taken from Paran Creek ranged from 16 to 38 ppt.

In water samples from the Walloomsac River just upstream and downstream of Paran Creek, levels were between 8 and 9 ppt.

No PFOA was detected in samples from Lake Paran or the Walloomsac River just upstream and downstream of its confluence with the Roaring Branch.

According to state officials, the PFOA concentrations found in the waters tested are much lower than concentrations that could be harmful to freshwater organisms. The governor's announcement cited acute toxicity studies that showed levels of 752,000,000 ppt have a negative effect on rainbow trout.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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