Amherst water tested for PFOA
AMHERST – An investigation into the contamination of local water supplies has been expanded to wells in parts of Amherst, the state Department of Environmental Services said last week.
"DES is expanding its investigation into perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in drinking water to Amherst … near the former location of Textiles Coated International," the agency said in a press release. "Eleven water well test results received by NHDES show concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) ranging from non-detect to 620 parts per trillion. Four of the 11 water well test results were over 100 parts per trillion."
The investigation into PFOA contamination of water in Amherst follows similar investigations in Merrimack, Litchfield, Bedford, Londonderry and Manchester. After the presence of PFOA was detected in private wells in those towns, the DES declared a provisional safe exposure limit of 100 parts per trillion, which is the standard used by Maine. The EPA recommends avoiding short-term exposure to more than 400 parts per trillion, but hasn’t yet set a lifetime safe exposure limit.
While the investigation into the extent of contamination is ongoing, Jim O’Mara, Amherst town administrator, said the town is aware of the issue and is ready and willing to work with the DES to solve the problem.
"We were advised yesterday by DES," O’Mara said last week. "The town of Amherst is working closely with DES to assist in any way we can.
"DES is taking the lead on the matter. We stand ready to support our residents on private wells."
According to the company website, TCI is "an American manufacturer of high-performance fluoropolymer films, laminates, and composites." The company, which is based in Manchester, used to operate a facility at 105 Route 101A. That facility, which closed in 2006, is the center of the DES’ new 1-mile investigation area.
Edward Frechette, TCI engineering manager, said his company has stopped using PFOA and that it’s committed to finding a solution.
"Because PFOA has been detected in environmental tests conducted worldwide, the EPA has been studying the product for years," he said in a press release. "Within the last 10 years, the EPA decided to come up with a plan to phase out the use of PFOA by American companies for fluoropolymer production. December 31, 2015, was established as the final date for PFOA usage. As an early adopter of the EPA’s planned phase out, TCI was able to discontinue its use of PFOA in TCI production in 2014.
"TCI is fully committed to health, safety and environmental compliance. TCI will work with the N.H. DES to fix the problem."
The DES said in the early stages of the investigation that it would begin by testing wells within a half-mile of the former TCI facility.
"DES will initially be contacting the owners of private water wells located within a half-mile radius of the Amherst location to make arrangements to collect samples, and will adjust the investigation area as necessary," the DES said.
PFOA, sometimes referred to as "C8," has historically been used in the manufacturing of products such as nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, microwave popcorn bags, fast-food wrappers and dental floss.
Exposure to the substance has been linked to multiple diseases. According to a court-ordered study known as the "C8 Science Panel," which was conducted after a class-action lawsuit settlement in the Ohio Valley, there is a probable link between PFOA exposure and diagnosed high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular and kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
For more information, visit des.nh.gov.
Matthew Medsger can be reached at 594-6531 or email@example.com.