Agency proposes thresholds of 12 parts per trillion for PFOA and 15 parts per trillion for PFOS
CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire environmental officials are proposing strict new limits on certain contaminants in drinking water, saying the previous levels were far too lenient and put people’s health at risk.
The Department of Environmental Services on Friday proposed dramatically lower acceptable levels of per- and polyfluoroalykyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water. The recommendations come three years after PFAS contamination was discovered in wells near the Saint-Gobain manufacturing facility in Merrimack.
New Hampshire had adopted the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s nonbinding threshold of 70 parts per trillion for two forms of the contaminant. DES is proposing much lower levels for four contaminants.
“We looked through the science and asked for input and could not find a scientifically valid way to combine these compounds,” said Clark Freise of DES.
Officials are recommending a level of 12 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), 15 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), 18 parts per trillion for perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS) and 11 parts per trillion for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).
According to the plan, households with contaminant levels above those values should have their source of drinking water fixed at the cost of the companies that are responsible for the contamination.
“My worry is that private well owners will be on their own. They may not be aware this is really important to get the word out — not to scare people — but they’re going to have to test their water,” said Laurene Allen of the Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water.
Merrimack already voted to filter its public water, but that’s still a few years away.
“In the case of groundwater, it’s very hard to do something that would get the exceedance down, so it is generally the case where they have to provide alternative water,” Freise said. “That alternative might be whole-house filtration, or it might be an extension of public water into the area.”
Health officials are encouraging families to speak to their doctors about their concerns.
“We’re still learning about the long-term human health impacts,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “In fact, we’re working with the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.”
The proposal still needs approval by the state Legislature. A discussion of the report with interested stakeholders will be held July 9 at the DES auditorium.
*Original article and TV report online at https://www.wmur.com/article/nh-des-proposes-water-drinking-standards-that-would-be-among-nations-strictest/28222374