The New York State Department of Health has launched an online survey to study the effects of exposure to perfluorinated chemicals such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The City of Newburgh and two other communities have been chosen to take part in the study.
Survey questions ask if participants drank city water and for how long. The survey also asks about known health conditions and the length of time participants have had these conditions.
The DOH will use results of the survey to study the “prevalence of various health conditions in each impacted community.” Survey responses will be kept confidential.
The survey was launched a little more than a year following the discovery of PFOS contamination in City of Newburgh drinking water and water bodies throughout the city’s drinking watershed.
Testing by the state Department of Environmental Conservation revealed the contamination came from the Stewart Air National Guard Base, where PFOS-containing fire foam was used for decades in training drills and fires.
The DOH conducted a year-long, regionwide blood testing program, which provided participants with information on their blood levels of perfluorinated chemicals – also referred to as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The tests did not provide participants with any information on potential health effects, a point of contention for many residents who had their blood tested.
“To date, New York has conducted PFAS blood testing for more than 6,000 individuals, tested more than 1,600 private-well samples and collected more than 1,700 community health surveys from individuals,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in a statement last week.
The survey was also offered to residents in Hoosick Falls, where the public water supply was contaminated by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and Long Island, where the Gabreski Air National Guard Base leached PFOS into drinking water in the Westhampton area.
The DOH has joined Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont to call on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a national health-effects study on communities impacted by perfluorinated chemicals.
“As communities across the nation are impacted by PFAS contamination, we have asked our federal partners to join us in our efforts to develop a better understanding of the clear association between long-term exposure and certain health effects,” Zucker said.
To access the online survey, visit the state Department of Health website at Health.ny.gov – type “Newburgh survey” into the search window on the homepage. Residents without computer access can request a paper version of the survey by calling 518-402-7950.
By SHANTAL RILEY