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Health experts say state fact sheet downplays PFOA risks

Aug 09, 2016 12:02 am

Scott Waldman is reporting at Politico New York public health experts are accusing the Cuomo administration of distributing health information in Hoosick Falls that downplays the risks of having a toxic chemical in the bloodstream. The fact sheet, distributed by the state, provides a simple explanation of what it means for someone to have elevated PFOA levels. However, four experts who reviewed the document for Politico said the information was misleading and does not adequately convey the severity of the danger. The five-page fact sheet includes 17 of the most commonly asked questions about potential health risks, and concludes with a section recommending links for additional information. Hundreds of Hoosick Falls residents now have high PFOA blood levels, some more than 500 times the national norm. The public health experts all pointed to one section of the fact sheet on cancer risks as problematic. That section states there is “no conclusive evidence that PFOA causes cancer in humans," while focusing on the inconclusive nature of scientific studies surrounding the cancer-linked chemical. The state health department distributed a fact sheet last year in which the state asserted that the presence of the cancer-linked chemical in the public village water supply “does not constitute an immediate health hazard.” State authorities were accused in a recent congressional probe of being “sluggish” in their response to the crisis. Phil Brown, director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University said state health departments are often cautious. They focus on avoiding public alarm rather than delivering the blunt truth, he said. “From their point of view, they don’t want to worry people. The truth is people have the right to know what’s in their bodies, in their homes, in their water, it’s their decision how to react to that data,” Brown said. Read the full story at Politico New York.