N.H. Senators Want EPA to Allow Release of PFC Health Risk Data

May 14, 2018

Firefighting foam, which often contains PFCs, is sprayed on a building at Mammoth Hot Springs in this 1988 Park Service photo.
Credit Jim Peaco / NPS

New Hampshire’s U.S. senators are criticizing the Trump administration for reportedly blocking the release of new data about chemicals called PFCs, which have raised contamination concerns in the state.

Emails obtained by Politico reportedly show White House and Environmental Protection Agency officials citing public relations fears in delaying publication of a PFC study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

PFCs are found in high levels in some drinking and groundwater in New Hampshire and many other places.

They were common until recently in a range of household and industrial products, as well as at military bases and other sites where certain firefighting foams were used.  

The unreleased CDC data reportedly shows PFCs threaten human health at a far lower level than the EPA currently says is safe – potentially about 10 parts per trillion, rather than the EPA’s current advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

New Hampshire uses that 70 parts per trillion advice as its PFC standard. Some lawmakers and activists want to tighten that limit.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both New Hampshire Democrats, want the EPA to allow the release of the new study to help inform that conversation.

“New Hampshire families have been waiting for years for information that will shed light on the health impacts of exposure to PFAS chemicals,” Shaheen says in a statement. “[I]t’s unconscionable that even the existence of this study has been withheld until now.”

Shaheen says the study, which Politico says has no timeline for public comment or release, could complement another upcoming CDC study about the chemicals. Her office said last week that study would focus in part on Pease International Tradeport.

That study ramps up as the EPA prepares to hold a national summit on PFC regulations in Washington, D.C., next week.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Sununu says state environmental services commissioner Bob Scott will represent New Hampshire at that meeting.