Tests will search for contaminants previously discovered in the City of Newburgh’s drinking water
By Mark Gerlach
Free blood tests are set to begin for those who may have been impacted by perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, a chemical detected in Washington Lake, which the City of Newburgh previously used to provide water to its residents.
After declaring a state of emergency in May, Newburgh subsequently switched its water supply to Brown’s Pond, and then to the Catskill Aqueduct, after the chemical was detected.
“Information and data is going to help to guide the next steps, and provide you with more information about your individual exposures…,” Nathan Graber, director of the Center for Environmental Health at the state Department of Health, said at a public meeting on the evening of Oct. 25 at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center on South William Street.
Residents, including those in New Windsor and the Town of Newburgh, who believe they may have been impacted by the chemical, can register for the free testing, Graber said. It was noted at the meeting that students from surrounding municipalities and elsewhere have attended city schools and colleges.
Various factors, such as age, gender, background, how long a person has lived in the city, and the amount of the contaminated water consumed, can effect exposure levels, Graber said.
Although the tests will not determine potential health risks, they can shed light on the level of contamination exposure in the body, he said. Data collected can help provide information, such as how long residents have been exposed, according to Graber.
Samples will be analyzed at a laboratory in Albany. Patients’ privacy will be kept confidential, in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Blood tests examining for PFOS aren’t generally available in most doctors’ offices or laboratories, Graber noted.
City Manager Michael Ciaravino said: “Now that we know that Washington Lake, situated 150 feet below Stewart Airport, which has been the site of the contaminate known as PFOS, has been discovered, for those of us who’ve been drinking it for the number of decades for which we now believe it existed in our water supply, what about us?”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has labeled the Stewart Air National Guard Base, which is believed to be the source of Washington Lake’s PFOS contamination, a Superfund site. The pollution is said to have come from a firefighting foam used at the site during training drills and emergencies.
Free blood testing will be available on the following dates, locations:
Cornerstone Family Healthcare (147 Lake St.) on Nov. 1, Nov. 2, Nov. 3, Nov. 12 and Nov. 13.
Harper Health at Cornerstone Family Healthcare (290 Broadway) on Nov. 7 and Nov. 10.
Residents can set up appointments for free blood tests by calling 518-402-7950, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.