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Official: Merrimack cancer rates not higher than rest of state

Union Leader Correspondent

October 10. 2017 8:30PM

MERRIMACK — According to a report issued Wednesday by the state Department of Health and Human Services, more than 200 customers on public water supplies in Merrimack and Bedford have perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exposure levels twice as high as the national average.

“Because levels of PFOA were found in the (Merrimack Valley District) public drinking water supply, PFOA blood levels were found to be higher than the average U.S. resident,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire state epidemiologist.

“That is why we have advocated for a national health study on PFC exposure and human health so we can better understand what PFC exposure, including in towns served by MVD where the exposure is lower than other exposed communities, might mean for a person’s health.”

Some studies on PFOA indicate changes in liver enzymes and thyroid hormone levels, increases in cholesterol levels, lower immune function, decreased kidney function and occurrence of some cancers such as prostate, kidney and testicular cancer.

Health outcomes from the C8 Health Project conducted in West Virginia and Ohio in 2005 indicate possible links between the chemical and high cholesterol, thyroid diseases, ulcerative colitis, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy induced hypertension.

Lisa Morris, director of public health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, said that Merrimack’s cancer rates are not higher than other parts of New Hampshire, according to newly completed cancer monitoring.

Chan said that the elevated PFOA levels detected in local blood tests are not as high as in other states where water contamination has become a problem, specifically in Bennington, Vt., and Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

PFOA contamination was discovered last year around the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack, prompting the distribution of bottled water to hundreds of residents.

PFOA has been used in cleaning products, pesticides and other industrial and commercial products, and was previously used to make DuPont’s Teflon cookware.

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