New Survey Seeks Insight Into Health Impacts of PFOA

The New York Department of Health announced this week that it will be launching a national health effects study of communities impacted by chemical substances such as PFOA, including Hoosick Falls.

Five states have signed up to support the DOH’s request to the Centers for Disease Control to launch the study, including Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

The Department of Health has also launched an online survey as part of a project called Understanding PFOA, which focuses on current or past residents of Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, or Bennington.

This questionnaire is apart from previous studies as it will examine all illnesses linked to PFOA, not just cancers.

Questions asked in the survey, responses to which will be kept confidential, include where and when they lived in that particular area, their occupations, and any health conditions they have been diagnosed with.

“Are there trends, health trends in their communities, among the residents who consumed contaminated water?” stated environmental leader Judith Enck.

More than 1,700 residents in the Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh area have already completed the survey.

October 1st is the last day given to complete the health questionnaire.

The survey can be found online here. For those without access to a computer, a paper version of the questionnaire can be obtained by calling the DOH at 518-402-7950.

Read the full story here.


Honeywell Conducting Investigation into New Pollution in Hoosick Falls

LUCAS WILLARD / WAMC

In a meeting held this week, Honeywell representatives informed residents that there may be another form of pollutant leaking into their drinking water, apart from PFOA chemicals they are already exposed to.

Under a state consent order, Honeywell is conducting an investigation into the detection of chemicals at the site of the company’s former building in Hoosick Falls.

The type of pollutant in question is called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Prior to this investigation, chemicals known as TCE and 111-TCA were found at the John Street Honeywell location.

Honeywell is now asking permission from Hoosick Falls residents to test their homes for VOCs, as directed by the consent order with the New York State Department of Health and Environmental Conservation.

39 properties surrounding the area of Honeywell’s former facility will be investigated, according to the company’s Global Remediation Director, John Morris.

At the meeting held this week, Morris explained to town residents that VOCs enter homes through vapors released from contaminated groundwater. Basements and living rooms will be tested in the specified homes.

TCE is a known carcinogen, according to the Department of Health. It can affect the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, reproductive and immune systems, and may also cause birth defects.

Read more here.


More Health Harms from PFOA Found

New studies have came out recently that show more harmful effects of PFOA exposure on mothers and their children.

Four studies that have been conducted by Harvard researchers and other leading journals to look into highly fluorinated chemicals such as PFOA.

“These chemicals have some of the strongest bonds in the periodic table, and they basically never break down, so they stay around for millions of years,” said Arlene Blum from the University of California, Berkeley-based Green Science Policy Institute.

Several kinds of cancer, high cholesterol and obesity are some of the harmful health effects associated with PFOA exposure.

It was also found that young children who are exposed to the chemical PFOA have a reduced immune response to vaccinations. Furthermore, as children grow older, they may experience other problems such as more colds and upset stomachs.

Another study discovered that women who had high levels of PFOA in their blood were not able to breastfeed as long as other women.

Learn more here.

Attorneys Stephen Schwarz and Hadley Matarazzo at Faraci Lange, as well as Robin Greenwald at Weitz & Luxenberg, represent the plaintiffs as co-lead counsel in the Hoosick Falls lawsuit.

PFOA Informational Meetings in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh

PFOA Water ContaminationPFOA Informational Meetings are being held on JUNE 7 and JUNE 8, 2016 at 6:30pm to discuss recent PFOA developments.

The Petersburgh meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Petersburgh Veterans Memorial Community Center (PVMCC) located at 71 Main St., Petersburgh, NY 12138.

The Hoosick Falls meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Hoosick Falls Country Club located at 73 Richmond Avenue, Hoosick Falls, NY 12090.

Items discussed will include:

  • the EPA setting the PFOA health advisory level at 70 parts per trillion and what needs to be done to make sure your drinking water is safe;
  • interpreting soon to be released PFOA blood test results and what it means for your health; and
  • your family’s potential legal options.

This meeting is being sponsored by the law firms of Chaffin Luhana LLP, Williams Cuker Berezofsky, LLC and Faraci Lange, LLP.

Please attend if you are a client of these firms or a resident not represented by legal counsel who is interested in learning more about general PFOA developments or the litigation.

Man Credited with Discovering PFOA in Hoosick Falls Files Lawsuit

Lawsuit Filed Hoosick FallsMichael Hickey, the man who was credited to have discovered the toxic chemical PFOA in the water supply of Hoosick Falls two years ago, filed a federal class-action lawsuit this week.

The lawsuit, which Hickey filed on behalf of himself and his son, targets manufacturing plants Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as the potential cause of the contamination.

Hickey states that his concern of any future health effects caused by their consumption of the PFOA-tainted water for years lead him to pursue this claim.

The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Albany and is one of several lawsuits filed this year on behalf of Hoosick Falls residents. Some allege that they may have developed serious health issues due to the PFOA exposure.

Hickey began looking into the village’s water two years ago when he noticed an unusually high rate of cancer among the community residents. This is when he detected an elevated level of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a harmful man-made chemical, in the public drinking-water supply.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Hickey by Stephen G. Schwarz and Hadley L. Matarazzo of Faraci Lange LLP, Gerald J. Williams, Esther E. Berezofsky and Michael J. Quirk of Williams Cuker & Berezofsky, and Eric Chaffin and Roopal P. Luhana of Chaffin Luhana LLP.

Read the full story here.


Water Filters Installed in Private Wells Labeled Not Safe for Consumption in Hoosick Falls

A Department of Environmental Conservation contractor recently installed filters in private wells in Hoosick Falls that were intended to eliminate PFOA, which is a chemical linked to causing cancer. However, these filters were labeled with a warning, saying the product is known “to cause cancer and birth defects.”

In addition, the label states that the water filter is illegal to use in the United States for human consumption, which is the main purpose of the private wells in Hoosick Falls.

Hoosick Falls Water Filter

The Department of Environmental Conservation made the following statement regarding this error:

“A supplier incorrectly shipped one box of valves that are not to be used with drinking water to a contractor. Immediately upon discovery late last night, DEC began tracking down the incorrect valves so they can be replaced. DEC terminated the companies responsible for the error. However, homeowners still continue to be advised not to drink or use water from the filtration systems until the state advises them that it is acceptable for all uses, so these systems were not used.”

The DEC also stated that it is unsure of how many incorrect water filters were installed.

If you have had a filter installed recently, please check the label to make sure it is not marked unsafe for consumption.

Read the full article here.


Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted by the PFOA water contamination are encouraged to submit a contact form.


Hoosick Falls Update: EPA Soil Sampling at Ballfields

CaptureThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will be testing soil samples from three ballfields in the village of Hoosick Falls that are located near a possible source of the town’s recent PFOA water contamination.

The sample testing will determine if the PFOA that was released into the air in the past from local facilities also contaminated the soil on the village’s ballfields due to their close proximity to the suspected source. Testing the ballfields will also show if the area had been used for disposal in the past.

This test will consist of samples taken at seven different locations on the three fields, as well as their dugout and bleacher areas. These samples will be tested for PFOA, its related chemicals, and several pollutants. The results will determine if cleanup work is necessary in the area by comparing them to the EPA’s established standards.

The results of the soil testing are expected to come back between late March and early April. The EPA will hold a public meeting to announce the results and answer questions before the start of the baseball and softball season.

Additional information about the Hoosick Falls water contamination can be found here or on the EPA website.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact us and complete a water contamination contact form.


Banks Suspend Granting Mortgages in Hoosick Falls

The Bank of Bennington and the Trustco Bank in Hoosick Falls have suspended granting new mortgages due to the area being contaminated with toxic chemicals.

Trustco Bank’s treasurer Kevin Timmons, who confirmed the report, says that before lenders can finance home, the property normally must have access to potable water. A standard test for potability includes testing for e-coli and other contaminants, but now perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) must be added to the list, which is the chemical that has been found at dangerous levels in Hoosick Falls’ water supply.

For the homes that are not on the public water supply, the bank requires that their private wells are tested before issuing their mortgage.

A temporary filtration system that will work to remove majority of the PFOA from the village’s water supply is set to be in place by the end of February. This system, along with the permanent filtration system anticipated to be completed in October, are being funded by Saint-Gobain.

Trustco and the Bank of Bennington have claimed that they will resume granting mortgages once the filtration system is in place and the public water supply is safe for cooking and drinking.

Read the full article here.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact us and complete a water contamination contact form.


Governor Cuomo’s Administration To Declare Hoosick Falls a Superfund Site

hoosick fallsDuring a press conference on Wednesday, Cuomo Administration officials announced that the state will declare the polluted water of Hoosick Falls a Superfund site, allowing the state to investigate the extent of any contamination and to begin remediation immediately.

The Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday issued an emergency regulation that will allow the state to list perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer and may have polluted the Hoosick Falls water supply, as a hazardous substance.

The Department of Health will initiate a health-risk analysis, install filtration systems at schools and other community gathering places and develop a state telephone hotline for health information, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said at the conference. Blood testing of community members will begin in mid-February.

Zucker said the state will also revise the level of PFOA in water that it considers safe. The state currently considers a PFOA level in water safe as long as it is below 50,000 parts per trillion. That number is dramatically above the federal recommendation of 400 parts per trillion. Zucker said the state will set a new level within the next few weeks.

Residents of Hoosick Falls, a Rensselaer County community, first raised questions about the polluted water more than a year ago, when the village began to see elevated levels of unusual types of cancers and other medical conditions consistent with unhealthy PFOA levels. State officials learned about the pollution in late 2014, but did not conduct testing until July 2015, Zucker acknowledged.

Shortly after being informed of the situation this fall, the EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck took prompt action and federal regulators issued the warning about drinking.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and administration officials met with town officials shortly before Wednesday’s press conference.

“These actions will ensure that the source and extent of PFOA contamination is identified, and all necessary steps are taken to swiftly address the chemical’s presence,” Cuomo said in a statement. “My administration is investigating this situation fully, and we will do whatever is necessary to ensure safe, clean drinking water for local residents.”

For decades, the Saint-Gobain factory in Hoosick Falls produced Teflon-coated materials that the EPA says may have polluted the village water supply with PFOA, a toxic chemical that is used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and packaging. The EPA is investigating whether that chemical may have seeped into village wells when workers cleaned smokestack filters and other equipment at the factory, which Saint-Gobain has owned since 1999. Other factories in town may also used the chemical and its exact source has not yet been pinpointed.

The state’s inaction for more than a year caused more people to be exposed to PFOA, said Michael Hickey, a town resident who used his own money to discover the PFOA levels in the town’s water. After his father’s death from cancer, Hickey took his own water samples from sources around town and sent them to a lab out of state that confirmed elevated levels of PFOA.

Read the full article here.

Faraci Lange is currently investigating bringing a lawsuit against one or more companies believed to be responsible for the cancers and other illnesses caused by this PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact Stephen G. Schwarz at (585) 325-5150 or to complete a water contamination contact form. You may also contact us here.


EPA Holds Public Meeting to Discuss PFOA Water Contamination in Village of Hoosick Falls

EPA Hoosick Falls PFOA Water Contamination MeetingFaraci Lange attorneys Stephen Schwarz and Hadley Matarazzo attended a meeting last night convened by the Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck, and her staff to learn more about contamination of the Hoosick Falls public water supply with PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).

Representatives from the EPA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) presented information on PFOA, the associated health risks, plans to investigate the source and extent of the contamination, as well as plans to conduct a health study of Hoosick Falls Village residents.

Residents learned of the contamination when elevated levels of the toxic chemical, PFOA, were found in the system in 2014 by Michael Hickey, a former village trustee whose father died of cancer. Hickey sent water samples to a Canadian lab that reported levels of PFOA that the EPA later said are not safe for human consumption.

PFOA is a manmade chemical used to make non-stick and other household and commercial products that are heat-resistant and repel grease and water. Under a deal with the EPA, major PFOA makers began phasing out its use in 2006. PFOA exposure has been linked to increased health effects, including testicular and kidney cancer and thyroid disease.

Enck has urged village leaders to warn residents to stop drinking or cooking with the tap water and limit other exposure. Mayor David B. Borge had previously stated that it was a “personal choice” whether to consume the water, which comes from underground wells serving about 4,500 consumers.

The focus of the contamination has been a Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics manufacturing plant, although there are other potential sources that will be investigated. The small Saint-Gobain factory, the village’s largest employer with about 125 workers, is on a hill overlooking the Hoosick River, about 400 yards from village well fields.

According to the EPA’s 2009 provisional health advisory, people should not drink water or use it for cooking if it contains more than 400 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA. In June 2015, the EPA found that four out of five water samples collected from various locations within the public drinking water supply system in Hoosick Falls had more than 600 ppt of PFOA. Additionally, groundwater sampling in 2015 at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility found levels as high as 18,000 ppt. Some private wells in the area have also shown the presence of PFOA, though not at levels above 400 ppt.

Hoosick Falls PFOA Water Contamination MeetingLast week, village trustees voted to have temporary filters installed on the water system. A long-term plan to install a charcoal filter system expected to remove PFOA from the water is set to be done later this year. Saint-Gobain has offered to pay to install and maintain the filter, and is also paying for residents to receive five gallons of water per day from the local Tops supermarket.

NYSDEC officials wrote to the U.S. EPA yesterday requesting that the sources of the Village of Hoosick Falls water contamination be added to the National Priorities List. This would make the sources of the contamination a Superfund site, which would avail the resources of the EPA and the federal government to address the source of the PFOA contamination. This will allow the EPA to begin an investigation into the sources of the PFOA contamination and, once identified, to explore options to remediate.

Read the EPA’s official answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Drinking Water and Groundwater Contamination in Hoosick Falls for more information. Concerned Hoosick Falls Village residents may also contact EPA Public Affairs Specialist, Larisa Romanowski, at 518.407.0400.

Faraci Lange is currently investigating bringing a lawsuit against one or more companies believed to be responsible for the cancers and other illnesses caused by this PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact Stephen G. Schwarz at (585) 325-5150 or click here to complete a contamination contact form. You may also contact us through our online intake form for a free legal consultation.