“Bucks and Montgomery County residents who drank contaminated water for years have a rare chance to find out what’s in their bloodstreams as part of a blood-testing study for what federal officials hope will become a national testing program…

The department wants to test the blood of 500 residents in neighborhoods surrounding the Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster and Naval Air Station Willow Grove, where drinking water was contaminated by chemicals leaching off the bases.

Blood drawing was due to begin Thursday in Montgomery County but had to be postponed because not enough people had signed up, said Sharon Watkins, an epidemiologist with the state Health Department, at a community meeting in Willow Grove on Wednesday night. Blood tests did begin Wednesday in Bucks County, but more participants there still are needed as well.

At the meeting, Watkins asked any residents who have received letters from the Department of Health to respond. To be eligible, the resident must have lived in the affected area before July 2016.

The state is one of two chosen for a pilot blood-testing program by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR. Pennsylvania’s Health Department will test the procedure in the hopes that the federal agencies will then broaden the program. ‘The study will lay the scientific groundwork for a larger, national study,’ the department’s website says…

In recent weeks, the Pennsylvania Department of Health sent letters to 300 households randomly chosen for the blood sampling, and 154 families replied. But only about 50 of those returned a second form necessary to schedule the blood-testing appointment. On Tuesday, the Department of Health sent letters to an additional 250 households, hoping to get more responses.

The study originally had been set to end Friday, but officials expect to receive an extension.”

Read the full article by Justine McDaniel & Laura McCrystal