BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – Bennington College and environmental leaders are hoping to gather local insight about the health impacts of PFOA through a questionnaire.
The questionnaire is part of a new project called Understanding PFOA. It’s for anyone who is currently living or previously lived in Petersburgh, Hoosick Falls or Bennington.
It’s a different approach because it looks at all illnesses linked to PFOA and not just cancers.
“When the study came out in the spring, it was a major concern because it was so insignificant,” Charlene Pray, of Hoosick Falls, said.
For Pray, it’s scary to talk about the potential health impacts of PFOA contamination. Many families still don’t know if the toxic chemical is to blame for their health problems.
“I was in the laundromat when the PFOA issues first came up, and I would hear people talking about their thyroid disease and their aunt’s thyroid,” she said. “It was just a massive number of people experiencing the symptoms.”
The symptoms of six illnesses linked to PFOA. The new questionnaire is hoping to finally answer the burning question.
“Are there trends, health trends in their communities, among the residents who consumed contaminated water?” environmental leader Judith Enck said.
Enck, the former EPA regional administrator, joined forces with Bennington College and local physicians.
They drafted 10 intimate questions that address PFOA exposure in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Bennington.
“We want to take seriously what the community knows about its own health, and we want to give that knowledge great prominence,” Bennington College professor David Bond said.
Pray’s hoping the approach will get rid of the toxic uncertainty surrounding PFOA contamination and secure a future for her grandchildren.
“It was disappointing there were no regulations to protect us, but now that the incident has happened, protect us by finding out exactly what’s going on,” she said.
The questionnaire can be found online. Families have until October 1 to complete it.
The data will be released to the public but all personal information will remain confidential.
In addition, the New York State Health Department is leading a multi-state call for a federal investigation into the health effects caused by substances like PFOA and PFOS. Officials want the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look into the health outcomes and other effects the chemicals have had on communities.
Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont are also involved.