Residents of Newburgh, New York, have been struggling with poverty and crime for years, but as of last year they’ve been faced with a new challenge: their tap water may have exposed them to a chemical linked to cancer, says CBS News.
Apparently, the chemical PFOS, which has been used in firefighting foam at Newburgh’s nearby military air base for years, was found in the city’s drinking water reservoir at levels exceeding federal guidelines, and has been there for years. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation had identified nearby Stewart Air National Guard Base as the source of the PFOS, suspecting the chemical, ended up in a stream leading to the city reservoir.
Since the news has gotten out, officials are encouraging the 28,000 residents of Newburgh to get their blood tested. PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonate, has been linked to cancer, thyroid problems and other serious health issues, says CBS News. Unfortunately the results of the blood testing won’t tell people whether they’re at increased risk for any specific health problem, but will show how their exposure compares to others.
The news goes on to share that about 1,500 people were tested near an air base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and found to have slightly elevated levels of the chemicals. In the rural villages of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, New York, where plastics plants are being held liable for PFOA in public and private wells, tests of about 3,000 residents that began in February have found PFOA blood levels as high as 500 times the national average.
Read more about what’s happening in Newsburgh here.