Sen. Gillibrand requesting CDC to conduct public health assessments around Saint Gobain site

saint-gobain hoosick falls

WASHINGTON (NEWS10) – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is requesting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to proactively conduct public health assessments of the Saint-Gobain site in Hoosick Falls.

According to the senator’s office, the public health assessment would allow the CDC to do the comprehensive review necessary to develop a public health action plan to help address the environmental crisis.

Sen. Gillibrand made the request through a letter urging the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the CDC to conduct the assessment around the site and in surrounding communities.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Director Breysse,

Thank you for your commitment to addressing the public health concerns related to the emerging problem of perfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination in New York State and across the country. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed adding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site in Hoosick Falls, New York, to the federal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) of the country’s most hazardous waste sites due to the contamination of the groundwater supplying the village’s public water supply wells with the chemical compound perfluorooctanoic acid, commonly known as PFOA. I am writing to you today to request that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use its authority to conduct a public health assessment of the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site and the surrounding affected communities where elevated levels of PFOA have been confirmed, to develop a public health action plan that identifies next steps for responding to this crisis.

As you know, studies indicate that exposure to PFOA over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, liver damage, low birth weight, immune system impacts, and other serious health effects. However, these health effects are not well understood, and more research is needed to clarify and expand upon current research findings. In previous correspondence, I have asked the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) at the CDC to prioritize this research, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to determine what resources are needed to conduct this research.

When you and I visited Hoosick Falls in July 2016, we heard directly from residents about how PFOA exposure has affected their lives and the grave concerns these families have about their future, especially with regard to health-related effects. The results of blood tests have shown that there are residents of the Village of Hoosick Falls with levels of PFOA in their bloodstream as much as 100 or 200 times greater than that of the general U.S. population. All age groups have been affected, from infants to senior citizens. The New York State Department of Health is currently conducting an investigation to determine if there are elevated rates of cancer among residents of the Village of Hoosick Falls based on cancer diagnoses from 1995 through 2012.

I strongly support the EPA’s proposal to add the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site to the NPL. The EPA’s public comment period on the proposal will close on November 8, 2016, after which the EPA will issue a final NPL designation. Should the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Site be added to the NPL, this designation would make the site eligible for funding to conduct long-term cleanup. It would also require ATSDR to conduct a public health assessment. However, ATSDR has the authority to proactively conduct a public health assessment of a site when petitioned to do so by concerned citizens.

Given the clear indication from the EPA that the PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls rises to the level of NPL consideration, as well as the public health concerns associated with the level of PFOA contamination in the Hoosick area and the PFOA blood levels among Hoosick Falls residents, I request that ATSDR proactively initiate a public health assessment of the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site and the surrounding affected communities as soon as possible. This would enable ATSDR to conduct a comprehensive review of available environmental and biomonitoring data, including data specific to this site and the surrounding communities; work with community members, state and local government entities, and the responsible parties; and ultimately develop a public health action plan that outlines appropriate next steps for addressing this crisis and better understanding potential health effects.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator

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