Residents in PFOA communities surveyed on health issues

August 29, 2017 06:55 PM

ALBANY - What scientists already know is that several ailments are linked to PFOAs. What they don't know is how much of an impact it's had on residents of Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, or Bennington, Vermont.

"So many mothers and fathers have expressed fear and outrage that the homes they labored for years to call their own may have been quietly causing harm to their families all along, " said Dr. David Bond, Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) at Bennington College.

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"PFOA has infiltrated our environment and our communities irrespective of the boundaries of responsible parties or state jurisdiction," he says, "By bringing together the impacted residents from New York and Vermont (the questionnaire we're asking people to respond to) focuses on the scale of the problem itself."

Dr. Bond has received two National Science Foundation grants to research the impact of PFOAs. Part of his research includes asking residents if their families members have been diagnosed with any of the ailments linked to the toxic substance.

Among them: Kidney Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Thyroid Disease, Prenancy Induced Hypertension, HIgh Cholesterol, or Ulcerative Colitis.

Hoosick Falls resident Charlene Pray thinks the health study is long over due.

"I'm mostly concerned about the children, people growing up in the town and I hear enough that there should have been a door-to-door canvassing, "she says, "If you want to know what's going on, you need to speak to the people."

Meanwhile, as the questionnaire program gets under way, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker is calling for CDC to make PFOA a national issue, sending a letter along with four other health officials last week urging the CDC to do just that.

"As communities across the nation are impacted by PFOA 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," the commissioner states. "To date, New York has conducted PFOA 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."

The questionnaire is the first effort to assess health concerns in these local communities that relies on the knowledge of community members themselves.

New York State and the EPA recently designated the Hoosick Falls plant a Superfund site. The Superfund laws, however, do not fully address health problems associated with the contamination.

One challenge to conducting the project is getting former residents of the region to fill out the questionnaire, that's why community members are encouraged to reach out to former classmates or family members who have moved out of the area.

Questionnaires are availabe at local libraries or community centers. The deadline for filling it out is October 1, 2017.

If residents have questions or would like to receive a questionnaire, they should contact Dr. David Bond at (802) 440-4324 or email


WNYT Staff

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