A small town in New York State has been plagued with fear after a federal class-action lawsuit against a local manufacturing plant found it was the source of high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a toxic chemical linked to increased risks for cancer, thyroid disease, and serious pregnancy complications.
The plant, owned by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, used PFOA in the production of Teflon, a synthetic polymer that has many applications, including the coating of non-stick cookware.
For decades, the plant has used Teflon in its plastics products and has yielded what has been called “a trail of cancer” in Hoosick, where many families relied on the factory for work. The chemical was only discovered less than two years ago, by a local resident who was concerned about the water. According to the Hoosick Falls website, state officials were informed of the contamination in August 2014, but by January 2015, the state did not consider the matter “an immediate health hazard.”
Hoosick is now the site of a public health emergency, with residents lining up to have their blood tested. An EPA warning was issued last fall, when water near the plant was found to contain 45 times the recommended PFOA level considered safe for short-term exposure.
Finally, in February 2016, the state pledged $10 million to install new water filtration systems, and announced last week that a temporary filtration system was in place. Evidence of PFOA was recently found in the water in Petersburgh, New York, 10 miles from Hoosick, as well as water in North Bennington, Vermont, which is also about 10 miles from Hoosick.