N.Y. seeks to launch study of effects of chemical exposure

ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York Department of Health announced Tuesday it has enlisted the support of five states in its formal request to the federal Centers for Disease Control to launch a national health effects study of communities impacted by perfluoroalkyl substances like PFOA and PFOS, including Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, and Newburgh.

The letter, sent last week, and co-signed by state health officials from Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont calls upon CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to move quickly to build upon the extensive response and data collection each state has initiated by launching a longitudinal study of health outcomes in communities affected by PFAS from legacy industrial sources and from firefighting foams used by the military and others.

In New York, according to a media release, DOH has collected PFAS blood levels from affected communities throughout the state. The department also has collected an extensive amount of public water system and private well testing data in each of the communities.

In a longitudinal study, these combined data could be used by ATSDR as they collect future health outcomes information for residents in these communities and others across the nation to study the relationship between health effects and varying levels of PFAS exposure.

"As communities across the nation are impacted by PFAS contamination, we have asked our federal partners to join us in our efforts to develop a better understanding of the clear association between long-term exposure and certain health effects," said New York Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "To date, New York has conducted PFAS blood testing for more than 6,000 individuals, tested more than 1,600 private well samples, and collected more than 1,700 community health surveys from individuals."

He added, "This multi-state request to the federal government, along with the expansion of our data survey through the online tool, is the next step in our aggressive response to industrial water contamination and its impact on communities across the state."

The request follows a recently released draft document, "Feasibility Assessment for Epidemiological Studies at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire," produced by the ATSDR. The document outlines an approach for appropriate follow-up health studies for children and adults, but acknowledges the challenges of conducting these studies in communities with small populations. A national study, with access to information already gathered in multiple communities, is expected to help develop a greater understanding of the potential health impacts of PFAS exposure.


DOH said it has also launched an online survey tool (Hoosick Falls/Petersburgh, Newburgh, Long Island) in a continued effort to gather information about the potential health impacts of PFOA/PFOS exposure. According to the release, more than 1,700 current and former residents of the Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh area have already completed a community survey, which asks questions about where and when they lived in the area, their occupations, and any health conditions with which they were diagnosed.

DOH said it is encouraging additional residents in PFAS-impacted communities across the state to complete this survey and share the survey with friends or family who have moved away from the area.

DOH plans to use results of the surveys to study the reported prevalence of various health conditions in each impacted community and assess the relationship between disease prevalence and PFAS exposure levels for individuals in the community. All survey responses are to be kept in a confidential database.

For residents without computer access, a paper version of the survey can be obtained by calling the Department at 518-402-7950. Questions regarding the questionnaire can also be answered via e-mail at BEOE@health.ny.gov.

Also announced on Tuesday in Albany was a survey of residents in Hoosick, Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Bennington. Vt., of residents in the identified PFOA contamination zones around former factory operations in those communities.

Information on that questionnaire can be found on the Bennington College website, at https://bennington.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5hjQyad1za9AFPD


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