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Newburgh still awaiting help with substantive outreach on toxic water

Oct 11, 2016 7:00 am

Scott Waldman is reporting at Politico New York there are still no state or federal plans to conduct expansive outreach in the city of Newburgh to encourage residents to get their blood levels checked and determine the level of health risk after years of drinking a toxic chemical. Public health experts say many Newburgh residents are probably unaware of the issue, and need to be alerted to the fact that they have in their bloodstream a dangerous level of a chemical linked to cancer and other serious health problems. The state’s outreach so far includes participating in listening sessions with local officials, mailing information on exposure to PFOS to local physicians, participating in two public forums in Newburgh and weekly calls with city officials, a Department of Health spokesman said. The outreach does not include a broader education campaign to fully inform city residents about the problem. In a city of 30,000, only 300 people have signed up for blood monitoring, according to the state. In May, Newburgh’s main water source tested at twice the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended safety limit for the chemical PFOS. The state paid for the installation of a filter on the city water supply and switched the municipal supply to an alternate source months ago. Nearby Stewart Air National Guard Base was declared a Superfund site by the state Department of Environmental Conservation because it is likely the source of the pollution. After months of pressure, the Cuomo administration recently released an announcement about the beginning of a blood testing program in Newburgh. If the numbers of people tested become too significant, the administration will call on the federal government for help, state officials say. Newburgh city manager Michael Ciaravino said this level of response is far from the type of outreach necessary to help residents address the health challenges they face. Ciaravino wants widespread blood testing made available, in addition to a campaign to let people know the importance of checking their blood levels. Read the full story at Politico New York.

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