To The Editor:
I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the PFOA contamination in the Village of Hoosick Falls and the upcoming Village elections.
[private]While the toxicity levels of PFOA is a matter of ongoing research, I was curious to find out what the actual quantities involved were. A little online research unearthed a document labeled USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5119, which states: “For perspective, 0.01 ug/L (micrograms per liter ) is nearly identical to half a drop of the pure compound diluted into a 660,000 gallon Olympic sized swimming pool.” This dilution translates out to 10,000 ppt ( parts per trillion ) which is higher than that found in our municipal water system.
At the recommended 8 cups of water per day consumption level, it would take 364 years for an individual to drain that swimming pool and receive the full half-drop dosage. In addition, I’m told that PFOAs will eventually clear themselves from the human body, halving their concentration every 4 years.
Interestingly, given the long term use of this chemical in carpeting, upholstered furniture, wire insulation, pizza boxes, Halloween costumes and many other everyday products, PFOAs ( and related chemicals) are already present in detectable amounts in every citizen of the USA, whether their water is contaminated or not.
I’m not in any way downplaying the probable toxicity of PFOAs – I’m looking forward to seeing accurate information about that aspect once the research results come in.
Nor am I writing this as an detached observer – I’ve been drinking the municipal water for 15 years and just had half my thyroid removed two weeks ago. That may or may not be coincidence. I’m not jumping to any conclusions until the studies are finished.
Speaking for myself, I feel that Mayor Borge and the Trustees have been outstanding, for the most part, in handling this crisis. In the year and a half since the original discovery of PFOAs in the municipal water, they have dealt with conflicting recommendations from NYS Dept of Health and from the EPA; researched and ordered appropriate filter systems; established a village wide supply of bottled water for the duration of this emergency; and set up methods of keeping the public informed of the latest developments.
That’s not too shabby for folks who are not politicians, executives or scientists by trade. They are civic-minded village residents who have taken on a thankless and unpopular job – so much so that they ran unopposed in the last election, with a village-wide turnout of 52 voters.
I’m well aware that the Village Board has come under fire for not going public about PFOAs in the water from August to December of 2014, and for allowing residents to drink the water for a year after that. They were following the guidance of the NYS Department of Health.
It seems that going off half-cocked at that point would have been counterproductive. Given the current media and law firm feeding frenzy, and climate of mass hysteria and rumors, I’d say they made the right call.
I’m old enough to remember the last time the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught on fire in 1969. Hell, it caught on fire 13 times prior to then, as did other urban rivers across the country. I remember the EPA being created in 1970 to address the rampant water and air pollution. We have a lot of legacy pollution from those decades to deal with today. Of the 88,000 plus chemicals in use today, only 150 or so are required to be tested for in the public water supply on a routine basis.
Given that Hoosick Falls was an industrial town for much of its history, there may well be other pollutants in the water. Fortunately, the water filters that are being installed to capture the PFOAs should also work on other contaminants that may be present. This will buy us the time we need to locate a new well field and/or clean up the aquifer. Either way, thanks to the Village Board and the Mayor, Hoosick Falls will have the safest drinking water in NYS, at no cost to its taxpayers.
I plan to vote to keep this team intact.
Hoosick Falls is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg. As more and more communities find that their water supplies are also compromised, they will be able to use our response as a model for their own. Those are the facts, as best I can ascertain – the rest is all my humble opinion. That opinion is based on having a BS in Biology from Colgate, and having personally known Dave Borge, an honest man of integrity, for 15 years.
As a homeowner and resident, I have a vested interest in seeing our village prosper and would hope to see every one pull together. Whatever else you do on March 15th, please remember to vote.
Hoosick Falls, NY[/private]