Updated Drinking Water Well Test Results for Southern N.H. PFOA Investigation

The Board of Selectmen received the following press release today from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services regarding the ongoing drinking water well test results. State and Town officials are planning another public informational meeting as soon as possible to provide additional information and answer questions. All questions regarding this matter should be directed to Jim Martin, NHDES – 603-271-3710.

DATE: March 29, 2016
CONTACT: Jim Martin, 603 271-3710

Updated Drinking Water Well Test Results for Southern N.H. PFOA Investigation

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has received new drinking water well test results from testing for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in Merrimack and Litchfield, New Hampshire.

Test Results: The water well samples were collected on March 18 through the 21st, within a 1-mile radius from the Saint-Gobain facility in Merrimack. The results from this round show levels of PFOA ranging from no detection to 830 parts per trillion. Of the 59 results received, 17 wells showed PFOA levels above 100 parts per trillion (ppt) ranging from 110 ppt to 830 ppt. In total, 20 water wells have tested above 100 ppt since the investigation began. Previous test results from the Merrimack Village Water District ranged from 17 to 90 parts per trillion.

Since the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet established a Health Advisory for lifetime exposure to PFOA, NHDES, out of an abundance of caution, has decided to provide bottled drinking water to locations using a private well for drinking water for human consumption that contains over 100 parts per trillion of PFOA. NHDES will reassess this situation once the EPA provides more definitive guidance.

The EPA has not set an enforceable drinking water standard for PFOA under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA’s Office of Water has, however, established a Provisional Health Advisory (PHA) of 0.4 micrograms per liter (μg/L) or 400 parts per trillion for PFOA. That level is set based upon short-term contact and the EPA is currently developing guidance for long-term exposure levels, which EPA is expected to release in the near future.

For background, the investigation into the potential presence of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in drinking water in Merrimack, began several weeks ago when Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics notified NHDES that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was detected at 30 parts per trillion in samples taken from four water faucets within their Merrimack facility, which is served by the Merrimack Village District Water System. PFOA has been detected in the Hoosick Falls, NY, water supply and in some private wells in North Bennington, VT, near other Saint-Gobain facilities. Because materials containing PFOA have been used at the plant in Merrimack, Saint-Gobain voluntarily tested the water at its Merrimack facility.

NHDES is still waiting for additional test results from samples collected during this time period. In addition, NHDES is working with homeowners within a 1-mile radius to collect water samples from wells that have not been previously tested. For more information related to the investigation, please visit the NHDES website at http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pfoa.htm