First blood tests in Bucks, Montco show above-average contamination after tainted water
Residents in Bucks and Montgomery Counties who participated in a blood-testing program because their drinking water was contaminated by chemicals on nearby military bases have a dramatically higher presence of some chemicals in their blood than the general U.S. population — in the case of one chemical, five times more than the typical American.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health mailed the averaged results to the 235 residents in Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington Townships who participated in the testing program, which was completed at the end of September.
In the Bucks-Montgomery area, the chemicals have also been found in lower amounts in several surrounding municipalities.
The average for one type of PFAS, known as PFHxS, in the Pennsylvania residents sampled was 7.63 micrograms per liter — more than five times the national average.
"It is important to remember that scientists are not sure about the health effects of human exposure to PFAS and do not know what these levels mean, if anything, in terms of affecting your health now or later in life," the letter stated.
The agency has not set any guidelines for how much chemical is cause for concern in the human bloodstream, although a draft of a federal study released during the summer proposes a level of the chemicals that is safe for humans to ingest.
The EPA’s drinking-water guideline has also been contested by some experts, and the Horsham, Warrington and Warminster water agencies sought undetectable levels of the chemicals when cleaning their water supplies.
Last year, New Jersey set its own safe drinking-water level, much lower than the EPA’s.
Wolf has made recent pledges to address PFAS, and a state action team is set to publicly meet in Harrisburg on Friday.
The results here showed lower amounts of the chemical in the blood of those tested than for residents of the Hoosick Falls, N.Y., area, but higher than or similar to some results for residents in the Pease Tradeport region of New Hampshire, both places where blood testing has been conducted by state agencies for the same contaminants.