I have to keep dipping into this well because the disinformation campaign won’t let it go. Merrimack had a PFOA contamination problem. People are right to want more information. But the campaign has descended into a circus as “residents” demand unrealistic and unnecessary regulatory standards.
A little over a year ago I outlined the problem and the reality.
Workers subjected to higher concentrations and long-term exposure have been recorded with anywhere from 1-10 parts per million in their blood with no greater incidence of associated health problems than people who have little to no exposure. So what did they find in Merrimack besides Erin Brokavitch? In Mid- 2016, (emphasis mine)
The test results show levels of PFOA from 17 to 820 parts per trillion. Test results from the Merrimack Village Water District ranged from 17 to 90 parts per trillion.
Kimberly Houghton at the Union Leader Reports today that,
Residents urged the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) to put in place more stringent drinking water standards than what is being proposed, saying Monday that it is worth being cautious for the health of Granite Staters.
NHDES is looking at setting standards for a range of related compounds between 89 ppt and 23 ppt. “Residents” are arguing that NHDES can and should set them lower. Again from Houghton and the UL.
“There is a (combined) 196 ppt difference between us and Vermont — so how about we stop using full grown men in our studies and start using kids and infants,” said Kathryn Hodge of Merrimack. “ … Merrimack is a total aquifer. When are you guys going to start protecting us?”
If we intend to start following the increasingly socialist-leading Vermont, we might as well throw in the towel. But let’s address the claim because I’ve already reported on it.
Are We interested in Safe Water or Jackpot Justice?
Research conducted by scientists with no bureaucratic or legal skin in the PFOA game report that, (emphasis mine)
One study indicated that the greatest amount of administered PFOA that does not cause adverse effects is 10 mg/kg/day in female rats and 3 mg/kg/day in male rats. (16) However, others suggest that this level is lower, because doses of 0.5 to 1 mg/kg/day (500 to 1000 micrograms/ kg/day) of PFOA were associated with liver effects on laboratory animals. (18) As discussed earlier, the highest level of PFOA that has been measured in water is approximately 10 ppb (10 micrograms/liter). Therefore, in order to reach even the lower estimate of the amount of PFOA suspected to cause adverse effects (500 micrograms/kg/day), the average person (of 70 kg) would need to drink more than 3,500 liters of this most highly contaminated water daily.** Using water intake and weight guidelines for children, a similar calculation would also indicate a margin of safety that is somewhat smaller but still very large.
For “the sake of the children” half of 3500 liters is (1750) which would weigh 1,358 pounds. That’s 462 gallons daily.
A Thirty-five-liter sample of our 3500 is a much more manageable 9 gallons of water. But no child, infant, or even adult is coming anywhere near that, and certainly not at the contamination level of 500 micrograms of PFOA compounds per day. Every day.
The existing EPA standard of 400 ppt already provides a significant margin for error. So, the NHDES numbers are excessive and therefore more than adequate.
Who Are We Trying to ‘Help’
The NHDES proposed standards between 89 ppt and 23 ppt may already present a significant burden. And Vermont has obviously overregulated the crap out of drinking water for no measurable purpose or gain.
Unless the point is to enrich bureaucrats and lawyers with unnecessary litigation or jackpot justice lawsuits designed to redistribute wealth from consumers through businesses bilked by opportunistic environmental groups or your own state departments of justice.
We come into contact with any number of compounds in the world every day of our lives that have no direct or cumulative impact on our health. Things that in large enough doses are harmful. But common sense tells us that nothing is gained by hyperbolic leaps of regulatory force with regard to most if not all of them.
PFOA’s occur in nature. They occur as part of man’s activity. And we should be cautious. But not the point of insanity.
The new proposed NHDES standard far exceeds any risk. They are too tight as it is. Making them tighter invites potential abuse. Lawsuits that will benefit special interests who will bilk taxpayers across the state (through their municipalities) for no good reason.