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RELEASE: Senate Reviews Amendment to Prevent Cancers and Other Diseases Caused by Drinking Water Contaminants

CONCORD – Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee reviewed amendment 2017-1572s to strengthen standards for evaluating ground water pollution in New Hampshire. The language of the legislation calls for the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt a Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) for perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in public water systems. PFOS and PFOA are two of the most cited contaminants at play in a well-documented series of public health crises caused by groundwater contamination across southern New Hampshire.

The language directs the adoption of the lowest levels reasonably supported by science. As former HHS Commissioner Ned Helms said (testimony attached): “By basing our PFC emission standards on a thorough review of the science and a full understanding of how that science has effected other state’s actions, and establishing New Hampshire’s standards in a way that they represent the most rigorous levels, we can then assure our citizens that we are  creating an environment that will provide the healthiest place to live our lives, raise our children, operate and attract our commercial and educational enterprises and be a leader in assuring those attributes.”

“Ensuring that our communities have access to safe, clean drinking water is one of government’s most basic responsibilities,” said Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord). “Exposure to these emerging contaminants has likely resulted in an increase in pediatric cancers and other debilitating diseases across southern New Hampshire.”

“There are those who make the argument that costs should override science. I disagree. And, I have to ask – what about the costs of cancer or what about the costs of losing one of our children to cancer? I think it’s bad for families and bad for business to refuse to err on the side of public health,” added Senator Feltes.

“The personal and economic costs of contamination in the seacoast have been devastating,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth). “I currently serve on the cancer cluster task force that continues to investigate the source of increased instances of pediatric cancer in Rye, Portsmouth, Greenland and surrounding communities. It’s clear from the research that these toxins are known to cause serious and potentially fatal health risks in those who are exposed. We have an obligation to protect the people of this state and establishing a scientifically proven, safe standard for evaluating drinking water safety related to PFOS and PFOA is a proactive measure we can take to ensure that we prevent future suffering. I urge my colleagues to give this amendment their full consideration and support for the benefit of New Hampshire’s children and families.”