NY Health Department releases some Hoosick Falls blood test results

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York Department of Health (DOH) released some of the Hoosick Falls blood test results with NEWS10 ABC Friday afternoon.

NEWS10 reporters Lindsay Nielsen and Rachel Yonkunas were on a conference call with Jim Malatras the NYS Director of State Operations, Dr. Nathan Graber the Director of Environmental Health at the DOH, and the Director of Public Affairs at the DOH Friday afternoon. It was during this call the state officials shared some blood test results.

When asked why NEWS10 was not allowed to use direct audio or quotes, we were not given any specific reason other than that is how the officials wanted to handle the release of the information. For months, the DOH has refused to talk to NEWS10 on camera about any issues regarding PFOA in Hoosick Falls, and they did the same on Friday.

RELATED: The PFOA crisis in Hoosick Falls

To date, the DOH has analyzed more than 2,000 blood samples from people living in Hoosick Falls. During the phone call, the DOH said the results are what they expected considering the degree of exposure in the community.

Officials did not release any personal information, but they did explain that older individuals will likely see higher levels, especially those who have worked closely with PFOA.

The DOH tells NEWS10ABC the general population has an average of 2.08 ppb of PFOA in their blood, a number from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The DOH says the 95th percentile have PFOA levels of 5.68 ppb in their blood.

According to the blood results, the average level of those sampled in Hoosick Falls is 23.5 ppb. It’s more than five times higher than the national average, but it is still significantly lower than what PFOA experts consider a “health risk.”

The health department did not say during the phone call what the highest or lowest levels were. They only stated the average.

RELATED: Information Sheet June 2, 2016 PFOA Biomonitoring Group-Level Results

Michael Hickey first alerted the village of Hoosick Falls to the PFOA contamination in 2014. He’s hopeful the results can help with early diagnosis of the illnesses linked to PFOA.

“In my dad’s case, maybe if we knew his number back then, maybe we could have caught his kidney cancer earlier on in the process,” he said. “It’s something that you hope that this gains.”

State officials said some studies do not show health risks associated with higher levels of PFOA in a person’s blood. But when Rachel challenged that claim, she was met with silence.

“CDC and ACS and WHO all actually recognize that the studies were done by the C8 Science Panel,” she said during the phone call. “Very little research done prior to that. If you know of studies that dispute their research, I would like to hear which studies those are.”

No one gave an answer.

People living in Hoosick Falls told NEWS10 they are tired of the state’s lack of transparency.

“We’re not stupid people,” Catherine Dawson said. “We need the information. We need to be able to advocate for our own health care and know what’s coming down the pike for us.”

When people get their results in the mail, it will include a letter with information that compares their level to those who have been exposed through drinking water and PFOA working environments in other states.

The department said they continue to collect blood samples at the Hoosick Falls Armory. They have also reached out to healthcare providers that will be looking at their patients’ results.

Anyone with questions is advised to speak to their healthcare provider.

Jim Plastiras, Dir. of Public Affairs for NYS DOH, released the following statement late Friday evening:

“The NYS Department of Health has completed the analysis of more than 2,000 blood samples of residents in Hoosick Falls. Residents have been mailed a comprehensive packet of information to help them understand their results and have been provided with multiple options for reaching physicians and staff should they have additional questions.”

RELATED: Hoosick Falls and Town of Hoosick Questions and Answers about PFOA Blood Testing Program

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