Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with his counterparts in Vermont and New Hampshire, has entreated the Environmental Protection Agency to revise national guidelines on PFOA consumption. The move comes on the heels of a major water contamination scare that transcends state borders in the Northeast United States.
In a letter issued last Thursday, the trio, which includes Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, warned that PFOA posed a threat to the country as a whole, and that the EPA must explain its positions in greater detail. A number of contradictions plague the EPA’s evaluations, including discrepancies between regional and federal offices. Although the EPA has claimed 400 parts per trillion safe for short-term exposure, the New York regional office recently set only a guideline of 100 ppt for the long-term.
Governor Cuomo further announced progress on the central contamination site of Hoosick Falls, an upstate New York village that has struggled with its polluted water supply in recent months. Despite criticism for a perceived delayed response, Governor Cuomo revealed Sunday that a recently installed water filter had cleared out PFOA from the water supply in totality. The New York State Department of Health, however, has warned residents to continue using bottled water until they finish examining the village’s samples.
Studies have linked PFOA exposure to various forms of cancer, and the World Health Organization has deemed the chemical a possible carcinogenic. The chemical stems from the production of teflon, and officials have traced the outbreak in Hoosick Falls to the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Plant, which sits at the heart of the contaminated area. New York State declared the plant a superfund site this past January, but residents of Hoosick Falls argue the move came far too late. Cuomo has blamed the delay on a lack of proper EPA guidelines.
The presence of the chemical has spread across the nearby border to Vermont, as well. The nearby town of North Bennington, some 12 miles from Hoosick Falls, has discovered the material in 29 of 34 private wells thus far. Some of the samples showed PFOA content of 2,270 ppt. Compared to New York and federal guidelines, the Vermont Department of Health maintains a far more conservative estimate of 20 ppt as safe to drink.
In his press conference Sunday, Governor Cuomo warned that the State will likely uncover more instances of PFOA contamination throughout the region.