UPDATE: Department of Environmental Services has increased the number of contaminated private drinking wells to 20.
Alarming discoveries in Southern New Hampshire have local residents on edge when it comes to drinking water from private wells. The Department of Environmental Services has found that about a dozen private drinking water wells have been contaminated by PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
“PFOA is a kind of polyfluorinated chemical (PFC)” used in the manufacturing of a variety of household products such as “clothing, cookware, carpets, furniture, food wrappers and more,” says the Environmental Working Group.
An article in the Nashua Telegraph entitled “DES: Some Merrimack water unsafe”, stated that private “wells near Merrimack’s Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics have levels of a potentially cancer-causing acid at twice the EPA’s recommended level for short-term exposure.” Local news channel WMUR said that “several wells have been contaminated” with PFOA and preliminary “results have prompted state officials to supply two local families with bottled water.”
The Department of Environmental Services has tested 12 wells, and found PFOA in all of them, although “only families with more than 100 parts per trillion of PFOA in their wells were told to drink bottled water.”
A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey prompted the Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) to warn New Hampshire residents about private well water quality as recently as June 2014. The study “found that 80,000 residents in Hillsborough, Rockingham, and Strafford counties alone may have unhealthy levels of one or more toxic metals in their drinking water.” According to the DES website, “arsenic, for example, even at levels that are common in New Hampshire well water, can cause cancer of the skin, lung, bladder, liver, and kidneys as well as diseases of the nerves, lungs, heart, and endocrine (hormonal) system, and may be associated with lower IQ scores. Infants and young children are more vulnerable, and the chances of disease increase the longer someone drinks the water. New research has shown that children exposed to high levels of manganese, another contaminant common in New Hampshire well water, may be at risk of cognitive problems.”
Officials say it’s too early to tell if the chemical should be a concern in Merrimack and Litchfield, but given that PFCs “have been linked to birth defects, pregnancy complications, kidney and testicular cancers, heart and thyroid disease, and other serious health conditions” according to the Environmental Working Group, it may be prudent to take your drinking water quality very seriously, especially if it comes from a private well.
This is scary stuff, but you CAN protect yourself, your family, and your pets. “Using a water filter is one of the best everyday steps you can take to improve the quality” of your drinking water says the Environmental Working Group, and Sanford offers Reverse Osmosis point-of-use water filtration systems which can mount to any kitchen sink and remove 85-98% of PFOA, as well as a variety of other chemical contaminants. If you’re concerned about the quality of your drinking water, contact Sanford Temperature Control today. Even if you’re not a resident of Merrimack or Litchfield, the presence of harmful contaminants in your water is still a possibility. Our helpful and knowledgeable technicians are eager to answer any questions you may have.
Stay updated on this situation by visiting NHDES here.