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Governor Chris Sununu wants the former Pease Air Force base included in a first-ever national study on the health effects of toxic chemicals called PFCs.

Sununu wrote this week to the federal agency leading the study, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It’s part of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The latest federal defense spending bill authorizes the agency to spend $7 million to study the health impacts of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs.

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Merrimack residents will vote this month on giving the town control of their water utility.

It comes after two years of struggle with contamination in local wells, likely stemming from local plastics-maker Saint Gobain.

Laurene Allen co-founded Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water, and says the local public water company's board hasn't been transparent about its dealings with the polluter.


A bill that would force the cleanup of a hazardous landfill on the Seacoast hit a stumbling block in a House committee Tuesday.

The bill would require the groups that dumped hazardous waste at the Coakley Landfill in Greenland in the 70s and 80s to start cleaning it up.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state commission on the Seacoast’s high cancer rates signaled Friday it would push for cleanup at Coakley Landfill, despite objections from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The legislators and public representatives who make up the Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission have a report due this fall on what's driving those cancer rates, and they’ve honed in on the EPA’s Coakley Landfill Superfund site as a likely culprit.

Representative Charles McMahon, a Republican from Windham, chairs the commission.  

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New Hampshire's Democratic congressional delegation is requesting that the Pease International Tradeport be included in a nationwide health impact study on chemicals such as PFOA found in drinking water.

Legislation authored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter establishing the study was signed into law by President Donald Trump last month.

The Pease Tradeport formerly served as an Air Force base. In 2014, the city of Portsmouth closed the Haven well at Pease after the Air Force found high chemical levels.


Lawmakers will consider at least a dozen bills about water contamination and other environmental hazards when they return to session in January.

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People exposed to the chemicals known as PFCs at the former Pease Air Force base could soon be taking part in a new national health study.

A defense spending bill signed into law by President Trump on Tuesday included an amendment on PFCs backed by New Hampshire’s congressional delegation.

Jason Moon for NHPR

State and federal environmental officials held a meeting in North Hampton Wednesday night to update residents on efforts to address contamination at the former Coakley landfill site.

For three hours, scientists with the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Services laid out the work that has been done and that will be done to monitor and address contaminated water at a former landfill on the Seacoast.

NH Department of Health and Human Services

State health officials say residents on public water in Merrimack and Bedford have been exposed to perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, at rates higher than the general population, but lower than in some other exposed communities.

Blood tests from more than 200 residents in the two towns found levels of the chemical known as PFOA were roughly double what's found in the general population.

The contamination is thought to have come from a nearby Saint-Gobain performance plastics plant.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency said the Coakley Landfill, a superfund site in North Hampton, does not currently pose an unacceptable risk to human health.

That message came as a surprise to some members of a task force charged with investigating a cancer cluster on the Seacoast. They have been arguing for months that the EPA needs to be more proactive in addressing contamination at the site.

NHPR’s Seacoast Reporter Jason Moon recently sat down with All Things Considered host Sally Hirsh-Dickinson to talk more about this.

Seacoast lawmakers want to take steps to ensure that a chemical found in water near the Pease International Tradeport doesn't cause problems elsewhere.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that two bills proposed by Democratic state Rep. Mindi Messmer of Rye would add regulations and create limits for so-called PFCs detected in local drinking water.

PFCs are considered possible carcinogens and are found in household items like Teflon.

A state representative is calling for the resignation of New Hampshire's state epidemiologist. At issue is the validity of a new study about the health effects of exposure to certain water contaminants.

Democratic rep Mindi Messmer of Rye and state epidemiologist Ben Chan are both members of a task force investigating a cancer cluster identified on the Seacoast last year.

Efforts to clean up PFCs at the former Pease Air Force Base will be the topic of a meeting tonight in Portsmouth. Air Force officials plan to give an update on where those efforts stand, 3 years after the contamination was first discovered.


State and federal environmental officials are calling for new warning signs to be installed near a superfund site on the Seacoast.

Regulators are asking the group that manages the former Coakley Landfill in Greenland to install the signs at a brook near the site. They want to warn people that getting in the water may expose them to an industrial chemical with uncertain health effects.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen is pushing for a national health study on the health effects of perfluorochemicals – the same chemicals that contaminated drinking water at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth.

In an amendment to a $700 billion military spending bill, Senator Sheehan is hoping to fund a $7 million national health study about the effects of perfluorochemicals, or PFCS.

Ian Sane / flickr, creative commons

A bill that advocates say would have improved water quality standards in the state will not become law this session.

The bill would have directed the Department of Environmental Services to conduct a review of the safe drinking water standards for perfluorochemicals.

These industrial chemicals have been found in communities across the state – including near the Saint-Gobain plant in Merrimack and the former Pease Airforce Base in Portsmouth.

Four wells in a neighborhood in Windham contain elevated levels of PFCs, a chemical contaminant, according to test results released Friday by the state’s Department of Environmental Services.

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The state senate has passed a bill that would require the Department of Environmental Services to re-evaluate its standards for perfluorochemicals, a water contaminant.

Ian Sane / flickr, creative commons

Lawmakers in the state senate heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would force the state to lower the safe drinking standards for perfluorochemicals, a water contaminant.

Right now the state Department of Environmental Services uses a threshold of 70 parts per trillion when testing drinking water for PFCS, an industrial chemical used in non-stick pans and other products. That limit is based on the federal standard established by the Environmental Protection Agency.


-- Updated 4/13 to include statement from ATSDR --

People exposed to high levels of PFCs at the former Pease Air Force Base are expressing frustration over how long it’s taking a federal agency to investigate the health impacts of the contamination.

After the chemicals were found in a well that supplied drinking water at Pease in 2014, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR, was told to investigate.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

The state Department of Environmental Services says a proposal to set stricter limits for certain contaminants in drinking water could cost the state over 30 million dollars.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A bill to create a commission to investigate a string of pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast received unanimous support from the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs today. The bill also has the support of Governor Chris Sununu.

The commission would take up the work of a now-defunct taskforce that was investigating the unusually high number of rare pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast.

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The state Department of Environmental Services says a residential drinking well in Rochester has tested above the state limit for PFCs, a chemical contaminant.

A pair of bills aimed at addressing concerns over drinking water contamination went before lawmakers today.

The proposals come as several communities around the state grapple with emerging contaminants found in their water supplies.

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Portsmouth officials say six rounds of sampling done for chemicals in wells at what's now the Pease International Tradeport have resulted in non-detect levels since the city began using a carbon filter system.

Public Works Department deputy director Brian Goetz tells The Portsmouth Herald the last test was done on Nov. 15. He says all six tests resulted in non-detect levels for two types of PFCs, or perfluorochemicals.

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New Hampshire health officials say they anticipate that blood test results for residents whose drinking water supply has been contaminated with PFCs will be coming back in the weeks ahead.

The state Department of Health and Human Services says that the agency has received about 400 blood samples from people who may have been exposed to perfluorochemicals in southern New Hampshire and at the Pease Tradeport.

The Conservation Law Foundation is suing the Pease Development Authority over water contamination issues at the former Pease Air Force base in Portsmouth.

The Conservation Law Foundation says the Pease Development Authority failed to seek required federal storm water runoff permits from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Conservation Law Foundation lawyer Tom Irwin says the federal Clean Water Act requires the PDA to have a storm water runoff management plan.

Residential water sources near a Superfund site on the Seacoast have tested below the state’s standard for perfluorichemicals - including PFOA. Earlier tests at the site showed PFCs at levels significantly higher than the state standard.

Sixteen residential wells near the former Coakley landfill were tested for perfluorichemicals following the discovery of those contaminants in monitoring wells at the landfill earlier this year. All of the residential wells tested showed PFC levels below the recently established state standard.

Jason Moon for NHPR

State health officials held a meeting in Portsmouth Thursday night to discuss the results of over 1500 blood tests from people exposed to contaminated water at the former Pease Air Force base.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Saint-Gobain is not the only company using perfluorinated compounds in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services has identified 44 companies in the state that likely use or once used this water-contaminating compound in their products.

Perfluorinated compounds include PFOA, found earlier this year at Saint-Gobain’s Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack, and PFOS, found two years ago in well water on the former Pease Air Force base.