In 2014, PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonate, was detected in Lake Washington, the 175-acre lake that supplied drinking water to the New York city of Newburgh. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit on PFOS was 400 ppt (parts per trillion); PFOS was found in Lake Washington at a level of 170 ppt - well below the federal limit.
But in 2015, the EPA issued a new level of PFOS for short-term exposure: 70 ppt. In Newburgh, a state of emergency was declared, and officials immediately found a new source of water for its citizens.
But the damage has already been done; years’ worth of exposure could have serious health consequences for those who have consumed Newburgh’s water. If you live in Newburgh and have tested positive for high levels of PFOS, contact our environmental litigation attorneys today.
The Source of Contamination
Officials believe that the source of the contamination of Lake Washington is a nearby military base, which for years used firefighting foam in which PFOS is found. Its chemical cousin, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is used in stain-repellant coating and nonstick pans; testing of PFOA and PFOS exposure has been conducted in other communities, such as that of one located close to an airbase near Portsmouth, where the chemicals have been detected. While blood testing is still ongoing in Newburgh - and could take months to complete due to language barriers and lack of information - other citizens in communities that have been exposed to the chemicals have blood test results with PFOA levels at nearly 500 times the national average.
The Risks of PFOS
Perfluorooctane sulfonate has been linked to devastating health consequences, including thyroid problems and cancer. According to an EPA health advisory for PFOS and PFOA, laboratory studies of rats and mice indicate that exposure to the two chemicals can result in:
- Development effects to fetuses (low birth weight, skeletal variations, and accelerated puberty);
- Testicular cancer;
- Kidney cancer;
- Liver effects;
- Immune effects (effects on antibody production and immunity); and
- Thyroid problems.
Studies are not conclusive; the full range of harm that could potentially be caused by prolonged exposure to PFOS or PFOA is unknown.
Your Rights If You Have Been Exposed to PFOS in Newburgh Through Contaminated Water
The fact that PFOS was discovered in the city of Newburgh’s drinking water is a terrifying reality for many, especially those with children who have potentially been drinking contaminated water for the totality of their lives. If you have not yet been tested for PFOS, you need to do so immediately. Sadly, even if blood results do indicate high levels of PFOS, affected persons have no way of knowing what this will mean for their health. Will they develop cancer? Be at risk of immune deficiencies? The future is unknown.
If you have been exposed to PFOS and have tested positive for higher-than-average PFOS levels in your blood, you deserve to be represented by a legal professional who has handled contaminated water and environmental toxin cases before. At the offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, our aggressive New York environmental litigation attorneys will advocate for you. To learn more, contact us directly by phone, or use our website to fill out our online form and tell us your story.