The Department of Health and Human Services will now pay for blood tests for some residents exposed to chemicals like PFOA and PFOS.
The department paid for the blood tests after workers and parents demanded them following exposure on the Pease Air Force Base two years ago. But DHHS had resisted paying for blood tests in Southern New Hampshire where similar chemicals turned up. That changed today, DHHS spokesman Jake Leon says.
"We know there is a lot of concern and uncertainty among residents who have been impacted, and we want to make the blood testing available to people who want to know what their exposure has been," he says.
For now, only residents who live on streets served by private wells that have tested over a certain threshold qualify for the blood tests, which will cost DHHS about $200 each. Residents on streets served by public water only do not qualify. Recently, Merrimack's public water system has tested above background levels, but below the state’s threshold. According to Leon, that system is still being examined
Experts say there is no realistic way to get these chemicals out of the body once they are identified. Testing can, however, motivate individuals to stay vigilant for symptoms linked to exposure. The data collected can also be used to study the long-term effects of the chemicals on residents who have been exposed.