“After mysterious chemicals were found in their drinking water in 2014, residents of Bucks and Montgomery County towns have wondered how much of the chemicals, called PFAS, had accumulated in their bodies. Now, hundreds will have an answer, after the state received grant money to test their blood this spring.

A grant awarded last week to the Pennsylvania Department of Health will finally answer the question stuck in the minds of many Bucks and Montgomery County residents: Just how bad is it?

Tens of thousands of residents along the counties’ shared border found out several years ago that they had been exposed to unregulated PFAS chemicals in their drinking water, potentially going back decades. The chemicals, used in firefighting foams at nearby military bases, could have been in the water as far back as the 1970s, building up in their blood all along until the contamination was discovered in 2014.

To date, only one local resident has publicly released the results of a blood test for the chemicals, which is difficult to orchestrate due to how rare the chemicals are. As part of a 2017 lawsuit, Ivyland resident Dorothy Palmer revealed she had a blood level of 31 parts per billion of one of the chemicals, which is 15 times the national average.

But hundreds more could know their levels soon. Last week, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), a professional organization, awarded a $175,000 grant to the DOH “to support biomonitoring efforts” for the chemicals, according to an announcement on its website. New York state also received $175,000, with funding originating from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biomonitoring is a term typically used to describe blood testing for PFAS. In an email, PADOH spokesperson Nate Wardle confirmed the funds will be used for testing. However, the tests costs hundreds of dollars per person, and Wardle said only a few hundred residents will be included. That’s compared to the more than 70,000 current residents who are believed to have been exposed to high levels of the chemicals in Warminster, Warrington and Horsham, in addition to uncounted numbers of past residents.”

Read the full article by Kyle Bagenstose.