Ayotte Calls on EPA to Act on Water Contamination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte today wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to expedite the release of a new health advisory standard for the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) following reports of water contamination in several cities and towns across New Hampshire. Previously, the Haven well at Pease International Tradeport was closed after tests revealed high levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs).

“Due to the increasing number of impacted communities, the unknown potential health effects related to using water contaminated by PFOA, and the conflicting standards as to what level of PFOA should prompt water treatment or use of an alternative water source, I urge EPA to expedite the determination and release of the new health advisory standard for PFOA as soon as possible,” wrote Senator Ayotte.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

I write regarding the increasing concern posed by perfluorochemical (PFC) contamination in water sources in New Hampshire, particularly the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Due to the increasing number of impacted communities, the unknown potential health effects related to using water contaminated by PFOA, and the conflicting standards as to what level of PFOA should prompt water treatment or use of an alternative water source, I urge EPA to expedite the determination and release of the new health advisory standard for PFOA as soon as possible.

As you know, levels of PFCs above the EPA’s preliminary health advisory closed the Haven Well at the former Pease Air Force Base last year. The EPA and Air Force have been involved with testing and are working with the City of Portsmouth to treat water from that site and clean the aquifer. More recently, PFOA has been detected in public and private water supplies in the communities of Merrimack and Litchfield. Public water supplies and over a hundred private wells are being tested by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). NHDES has begun distributing bottled water to households whose wells have tested higher than 100 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA. In recent weeks, additional impacted communities have reported increased levels of PFOA in water sources including neighborhoods in the Town of Bedford and the City of Dover, which as a result closed the largest well in its city.

The EPA has identified PFOA as an “emerging contaminate” and in 2009, the Agency issued a provisional health advisory for drinking water of 400 ppt for PFOA. New Hampshire residents concerned with this emerging contaminate have learned that in the State of New York, the EPA has set an “action level” of 100 ppt of PFOA, and further the State of Maine has set a health advisory level of 100 ppt and the State of Vermont has set a health advisory level of 20 ppt. These varying levels have created great uncertainty among the public regarding what PFOA level is safe for use and consumption.

Again, I urge you to expedite the determination and release of the new health advisory standard for PFOA as soon as possible. New Hampshire residents deserve to know whether their water sources are safe as quickly as possible. Thank you for your attention to this critically important matter.

Sincerely,
Kelly Ayotte
United States Senator

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