“In the wake of a federal report showing levels of PFOA and PFAS allowed in drinking water is too high, New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services announced Monday it is hiring toxicologist Stephen Roberts to look at the federal standards used in New Hampshire.

Merrimack and surrounding communities have been dealing with groundwater contaminated by perfluoroalkyls, PFOA and PFOS. While New Hampshire adopted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guideline of 70 parts per billion for PFOA and PFOS in water, a federal study released in June shows that actual safe standard should be much lower, at 11 parts per billion for PFOA and 7 parts per billion for PFOS.

Roberts did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. He is the director of the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology at the University of Florida. Roberts will review the June report from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry. He is tasked with reviewing the June report and providing an analysis of how the minimum risk levels within the report relate to drinking water and groundwater standards. He also will analyse how that information can inform the development of appropriate drinking water concentration guidelines that are protective of public health for the four compounds addressed, according to the DES.

Merrimack resident and water advocate Laurene Allen worries that Roberts will not recommend that the limits go down, and that the standards will stay at the EPA’s recommendation.

‘The numbers should be much lower than the EPA advisory,’ she said.

The Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in North Merrimack is behind the water contamination, and the company agreed last year to pay for new water lines for many homeowners as part of a deal with the state…

While Roberts will start as a consultant, New Hampshire is still planning to hire a full-time toxicologist and a human health risk assessor to assist with developing drinking water standards. That person will produces a reports on the limits of PFOA and PFOS for safe drinking water in January.

Allen said the state government has still not done enough for people dealing with contaminated water. She wants to see the state step up and do more, and especially inform people about the risks and ways to mitigate those risks…

Allen plans to watch Roberts and the ensuing work that is done to make sure the state lives up to its obligation to keep people safe.”

Read the full article by Damien Fisher