IN THE NEWS:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Declares Hoosick Falls A Federal Superfund Site
- Congress to probe Hoosick Falls water crisis. House Committee asks Cuomo and EPA for documents on water pollution
- Legislation Passed in response to the groundwater contamination crises in Hoosick Falls.
Hot on the heels of the water contamination disaster that is happening in Flint, Michigan, it has been determined that community members in Hoosick Falls, New York, have been exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in their water supply. PFOA has contaminated the groundwater in the area. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that the substance is a toxic and persistent man-made chemical used in a number of industrial and coating applications.
Residents of the Hoosick Falls community have been advised that the water is not safe for consumption, and have been advised to not drink from public water supply sources, and to not use the water in cooking either. The EPA lacks thorough research on whether inhalation or skin exposure to PFOA contaminated water is harmful to humans, but notes that PFOA exposure through these mechanisms (i.e., through inhalation or absorption through the skin) is unlikely to be hazardous.
How Long Has PFOA Been In The Water?
How long PFOA has been in the water supply is not clear, since the chemical has been used by a number of industrial facilities in Hoosick Falls for decades. How long officials have known about the high levels of PFOA in the water is clearer, but there is some dispute as to when exactly officials were made aware that there was a water contamination problem. Allegedly, officials had knowledge of a problem with PFOA in the water as of March 2015, but little could be done about the high concentration of the chemical since PFOA is not a regulated water contaminant. However, there are reports that officials may have known about the problem as early as July of 2014, when a resident came forward and voiced concern.
Who Is To Blame For The PFOA Water Contamination in Hoosick Falls?
At this time, it is believed that two companies may be to blame for the water contamination situation in Hoosick Falls, New York. According to an article published by the Albany Times Union, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has identified Honeywell International and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics as the two companies that are responsible for the contamination. If the DEC gets what it is pushing for, Honeywell and Saint-Gobain could be on the hook for the cost of the clean up as well as picking up the tab for all of the costs associated with the investigation of the ground water contamination and remediation of the problem.
Saint-Gobain conducted groundwater testing at its facility site last summer, which produced readings of 18,000 parts per trillion of PFOA. The EPA guidance for PFOA is 400 parts per trillion. Saint-Gobain has already begun to take steps to provide safe drinking water to the residents of Hoosick Falls, and has offered to pay for filtration systems for residents that are designed to remove PFOA from the water.
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