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PFAS info session scheduled

MERRIMACK – With hazardous PFAS chemicals continuing to cause problems in the community, federal and state regulators have organized a public information session on the subject.

The event is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the cafeteria of Merrimack High School, located at 38 McElwain St., Merrimack. State and federal professionals are expected to attend to provide PFAS information.

Officially known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS are human-made chemicals that include PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and others.

PFAS can be found in food packaging, household products such as paint and wax, as well as firefighting foam.

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFAS in drinking water, New Hampshire’s new standards are significantly lower. The state’s standards tighten the threshold on four chemicals, including PFOA at 12 ppt; PFOS at 15 ppt; PFHxS at 18 ppt; and PFNA at 11 ppt.

Merrimack Town Manager Eileen Cabanel said the roots of this information session were planted when several people asked town council members for more information relative to the new standards. She said about a month ago, the town’s water company, Merrimack Village District Water Works, distributed a flyer to inform residents that the level of PFAS found in their wells exceeded the new state standards.

“The public has heard about this, obviously for some time, and now that the numbers have been lowered, they hadn’t spoken to anybody from (New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services) subsequent to that,” Cabanel said.

Wednesday’s information session will include a PFAS overview with the State’s Epidemiologicst, the Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) and DHHS; New Hampshire’s drinking water standards for PFAS with a toxicologist and the Department of Environmental Services (DES); and a national PFAS health study with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A question and answer session will follow the presentations.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.