Questionnaire finds higher rates of cancer, illnesses linked to PFOA

August 22, 2018 10:57 AM

HOOSICK FALLS – Residents came out to a Village of Hoosick Falls board meeting Tuesday night to hear about the findings of a questionnaire detailing more cases of cancer and other illness tied to the chemical PFOA in drinking water.

The questionnaire was done by Bennington College and was completed by 443 people in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Bennington, Vermont. Those responses included people who were former residents and moved away after they were diagnosed with an illness

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The questionnaire found there were 31 cases of kidney cancer, 11 cases of testicular cancer, 231 people reported they had thyroid disease, 35 cases of pregnancy induced hypertension and 71 cases of ulcerative colitis.

"It's scary because you don't know how long down the road, is this going to happen,” said Hoosick Falls resident Gary Miller.

Miller was diagnosed with thyroid disease and his son recently battled testicular cancer.

The findings from Bennington College come more than a year after the New York State Department of Health released a cancer incidence investigation.

The DOH study only looked at cancer linked to PFOA in the Village of Hoosick Falls between 1995 and 2014. Some of the numbers from the DOH findings and Bennington College vary.

"We identified nine cases of testicular cancer in the village of Hoosick falls, five of those we understand how DOH missed, four of those we do not,” said David Bond, Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College. “Four of those we identified within the parameters the DOH was looking for, we don't know why they missed them."

The Department of Health said it’s about different methods.

“We focused on confirmed cases of cancer among village residents and my understanding of the Bennington study is it was ascertained by self-report of cancer,” said Brad Hutton, Deputy Commissioner for the NYS Department of Health. “So there could be a lot of easy explanations for why they have different numbers."

Bennington College’s report is also recommending a medical monitoring plan.

"We're calling on the state of New York and Vermont to establish a long term health monitoring program, fully funded by the polluters and not the taxpayers,” said Judith Enk, former EPA Regional Administrator.

They also want to see polluters pay for people’s medical bills, which is something Miller agrees with after seeing his son fight cancer.

“It’s just costly, very very costly for him,” said Miller. “They had a GoFundMe page for him and it raised money, but it doesn't touch what the final cost is."

The Department of Health said it started a second round of blood testing back in June for village residents. They said more than 800 people have signed up. They’re hoping the serum levels of PFOA have gone down and that will ease the mind of residents.


Emily De Vito

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