The results of a health survey in a local community confirmed what many already knew to be true: the long-term health impacts of PFOA water contamination are widespread.
The questionnaire identified unreported cases of cancer and other illnesses linked to PFOA exposure. The rates were found to be higher in people who were exposed to PFOA. Of nearly 400 reported cases, more than half were reported as some sort of thyroid disease. Almost 50 cases were kidney and testicular cancer.
Health officials said residents are now forced to bear the burden of the illnesses with no help from those responsible.
“It’s infuriating with PFOA now linked to diseases that show up decades later after low levels of exposure,” Dr. David Bond, of Bennington College, said.
Tensions were high at a public meeting Tuesday night. Emotions ran heavy as several said they are simply sick of being sick.
“I first became aware of PFOA, as far as drinking water, the night I closed on my home,” Jennifer Plouffe, of Hoosick Falls, said.
Hoosick Falls residents have spent years looking for answers on the contaminants in their drinking water. Plouffe was amongst the few at the Hoosick Falls Village Board meeting looking for those answers.
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For the past year, a team at Bennington College, led by Dr. Bond, has been researching the PFOA in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, and Bennington, Vt.
“We just released the findings of our PFOA Community Health Questionnaire,” he said.
And Dr. Bond said the numbers in his findings were really high.
“This questionnaire reported 31 instances of kidney cancer, 11 instances of testicular cancer, and over 230 instances of thyroid disease in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Bennington,” he said.
Another Hoosick Falls resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the water changed his life nearly five years ago.
“I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, parathyroid, and it went throughout my body,” he said. “I’ve had three surgeries, rounds of radiation, and I’m sick all the time.”
He, too, said he wants answers on what can be done to those, like him, who are suffering.
“We work hard as public health professionals to try to identify the causes of that, supporting health care providers, and the community here of Hoosick Falls to make sure they get the care they need,” NYS Public Health Deputy Commissioner Brad Hutton said.
Bennington College professors are asking that everyone who may have been affected by PFOA have long-term medical monitoring.
“The medical monitoring that we are recommending is not a big deal,” physician Dr. Howard Freed said. “It’s not hugely complex. It’s not hugely expensive.”
He said it’s all in hopes that they can help those already exposed with the disease.
The research presented by Bennington College and the Department of Health were different. Officials with the DOH said that’s simply because they used different methods. The DOH focused on confirmed cases of cancer, and Bennington College’s research was self-reports of cancer.