New surveys aim to identify PFOA-related health problems

ALBANY, N.Y. — In one day's time, two new surveys have been announced for Rensselaer County residents dealing with PFOA contamination in their water.

The contaminant has been the scourge of life in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh for years, lurking in private and municipal wells. Residents have been all too ready to talk about PFOA, even taking blood tests for it. But those same residents have never been asked about their related health effects from consuming the chemical.

"No one has asked these residents directly, 'Do you have any of the illnesses which we know are linked to PFOA?' " said Judith Enck, a former regional EPA director and advocate for PFOA victims.

Enck is now asking those questions, partnering with Vermont's Bennington College on a simple, new survey that questions Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh residents about their life and health after PFOA.

"The goal of this community questionnaire is to determine if there are health trends in these communities," Enck said Tuesday.

The 11-question survey will try to find patterns of cancer, thyroid disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and colitis — afflictions tied to PFOA exposure.

No PFOA-related survey of this type had ever been done before. Then, later Tuesday, the state's Department of Health announced its own online survey which asks the same kinds of questions. In a statement, the Department of Health acknowledged Enck's effort; saying quote: "We look forward to learning more about their research and how it can complement the questionnaires we’ve already received."

Hoosick Falls resident Charlene Pray said Tuesday that she is glad when anyone continues asking questions and learning about the PFOA contamination.

"If you want to know what's going on, you need to speak to the people," Pray said. "And I think this is being brought out by a reputable community — the EPA, Judith Enck and all that. I think people will be more responsive."

Both the Bennington College survey and the Department of Health survey can be taken online. You must have lived at least some of your life within Hoosick Falls or Petersburgh to be eligible.

The Department of Health survey can be found by clicking here.

The Bennington College-backed survey can be found by clicking here.

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