Read the full article by Dan Freedman
“WASHINGTON — After years of living in a trailer, Emily Marpe and her young family in 2011 moved into a home in Petersburgh on 2.3 acres with ‘no neighbors in sight, and a view to die for.’ She named it ‘Cloud Nine.’
But within five years the dream house had turned into a nightmare. It started with a notice from the Rensselaer County Health Department that said an unpronounceable chemical with the acronym PFOA had been detected in local drinking water — but at low levels.
Workers tested her water for the chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid. The following week, a health department official called to tell her, ‘You guys better stop brushing your teeth’ with tap water.
‘We were living the American dream,’ Marpe said at a hearing Wednesday of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, chaired by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam. ‘But our bubble was popped in a horrible way.’
The presence of PFOA and other chemicals in the class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been front-page news upstate since 2014, when PFOA was discovered in significant quantities in the drinking water of Hoosick Falls, another Rensselaer County community.
In both cases, discharges from substance used at local factories had permeated groundwater supplies. In Hoosick Falls, the plant responsible for the contamination, now owned by Saint Gobain, paid for a filtration system as the village continues to seek a safe future water supply.
But years of back-and-forth over testing results, complicated chemical names, studies of health effects and demands for remediation have obscured the toll on upstate residents having to cope with the day-to-day realities of life with contaminants in their tap water…
In often emotional testimony, she recalled how test results for her home showed PFOA levels of 2,100 parts per trillion. The current federal standard for safe drinking water is 70 ppt — which many scientists and environmental advocates consider far too high…
While most expectant mothers are excited to learn their baby’s gender, Marpe told the committee, ‘I was just praying for two nostrils and that her eyes would be OK. I didn’t want her to have to suffer like others have’…
Chemicals in the PFAS class have been linked in studies to kidney and liver cancer and other diseases. Marpe suffers from thyroid disease, and said her older daughter developed a lump in her breast and regularly sees a pediatric endocrinologist.
The family was forced to sell ‘Cloud Nine.’ Perhaps ironically, they moved to Hoosick Falls — where at least they could be assured of drinking water purged of contaminants through a filtration system.
‘No mom should ever have to go through what I’ve been through,’ she said. ‘… Congress needs to treat this contamination crisis like a crisis. It needs to end PFAS pollution and clean up PFAS contamination.’ “