Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire
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New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Urges ATSDR to Take Additional Steps to Asses PFAS Contamination in Southern New Hampshire Following Concerning Reports that Found High Levels of the Contaminant in Merrimack

Aug 24, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON- Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster sent a letter to Patrick Breysse, Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) yesterday, urging him to take additional steps to assess per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the Merrimack area.

The letter was sent following recent reports that extremely high levels of PFAS contamination had been found in a well next to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, a polymer product plant in Merrimack. In the letter, the New Hampshire delegation urges ATSDR to expand its current services in Southern New Hampshire to include a more in-depth evaluation of community exposure to these harmful contaminants, including biological monitoring of community members and an assessment of adverse health outcomes and health trends. The Delegation also requested that the agency asses the feasibility of creating a community engagement forum for the Merrimack area. 

“Communities and families in the Merrimack area and across the state are understandably concerned with the long-term health impacts of exposure to PFAS from drinking water,” the Delegation wrote.  “ATSDR’s involvement at sites like the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has been critically important for community engagement and providing guidance and information to community members. While we appreciate the work that ATSDR is currently doing in New Hampshire to assess the health risks associated with PFAS exposure, we believe that additional community engagement is needed in the Merrimack area to fully address concerns and provide answers and guidance for local residents and their families.”

A copy of the letter is available here and included below:

 

August 23, 2018

 

The Honorable Patrick Breysse

Director

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

4770 Buford Highway NE

Atlanta, Georgia 30341

 

Dear Director Breysse:

We are writing to encourage the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to take additional steps to assess per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the Merrimack area of Southern New Hampshire.

As you are aware, PFAS contamination has become a growing concern in communities across the United States and throughout New Hampshire. In early 2016, high-levels of PFAS contamination was discovered in public and private drinking water supplies in Merrimack and Litchfield, New Hampshire. A subsequent investigation by the State of New Hampshire revealed extensive PFAS contamination across five Southern New Hampshire towns.

Communities and families in the Merrimack area and across the state are understandably concerned with the long-term health impacts of exposure to PFAS from drinking water. ATSDR’s involvement at sites like the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has been critically important for community engagement and providing guidance and information to community members. While we appreciate the work that ATSDR is currently doing in New Hampshire to assess the health risks associated with PFAS exposure, we believe that additional community engagement is needed in the Merrimack area to fully address concerns and provide answers and guidance for local residents and their families.

In particular, as ATSDR staff continues to work on its health consultation for the Merrimack area of Southern New Hampshire, we request that this work be expanded to include a more in-depth evaluation of community exposure, including biological monitoring of community members and an assessment of adverse health outcomes and health trends. In addition, we would also request that ATSDR assess the feasibility of convening a Community Assistance Panel (CAP) or similar community engagement forum for the Merrimack area. In other sites with similar PFAS contamination, like the former Pease Air Force Base, this forum has been an effective way to bring ATSDR and community members together to collaboratively address these critical issues, and would benefit Merrimack and the surrounding communities that have been impacted by PFAS contamination.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this letter. We look forward to working with you to provide exposed communities with necessary resources and guidance.

Sincerely,

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