On December 17th, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned residents in Hoosick Falls not to drink or cook with village water because of elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
As reported by the Times Union:
PFOA was used since the 1940s to manufacture industrial and household products such as non-stick coatings and heat-resistant wiring, and was used at a factory near the village water treatment plant. The chemical was discovered in the village water system last year by a private citizen, Michael Hickey, whose father, John, died of kidney cancer in 2013. PFOA has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, as well as thyroid diseases and other serious health problems.
The EPA’s public statement was issued four days after a Times Union story reported that the state Health Department and village leaders, including Mayor David B. Borge, downplayed the health risks of PFOA in the water supply, and declined to warn people not to drink it. The story reported that many village residents, including a longtime family physician in Hoosick Falls, Dr. Marcus E. Martinez, suspected that high cancer rates and other extraordinary health problems in the village’s population may be the result of the contaminated water.
According to JP O’Hare, a state Health Department spokesman: “To reduce exposure from drinking water found to contain PFOA, people should use bottled water for drinking and food preparation. People may also consider using carbon filters which are known to remove PFOA from water, but their efficiency for site specific circumstances are not known without site specific testing.”
The EPA does not believe that showering or bathing in the water poses a risk for unsafe exposure to PFOA.