PFOA health survey in Bennington area will continue longer

BENNINGTON — A deadline for residents to take a questionnaire about suspected PFOA-related health issues has been extended to Feb. 28.
Also, Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the State University of New York at Albany, is joining the research team.
Carpenter and his graduate students will help get people who are affected by PFOA (perflourooctanoic acid) contamination in Bennington — as well as Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, New York — to fill out the questionnaire.
“PFOA and related compounds are very dangerous chemicals that increase the risk of several diseases, including cancer,” Carpenter said. “It is urgent to not only keep people from being further exposed, but also to develop a system of following the health of those individuals already exposed so that we can detect diseases resulting from exposure early at a stage when they can be treated.”
Residents are encouraged to fill out the health survey online at by clicking on the “PFOA Community Health Questionnaire” link.
The survey, launched in August in response to community concerns, seeks local insight about the incidence of six illnesses that previous scientific studies have linked to PFOA exposure. This information will provide a preliminary outline of the health of residents in New York and Vermont affected by PFOA.
“Drinking water that contains PFOA is known to cause a range of health problems,” said former federal Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “I strongly urge everyone who lives or has lived or worked in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and North Bennington to fill out this health questionnaire. It takes under five minutes and will provide important health information to researchers.”
Teams of researchers have been going door-to-door in the communities to encourage people to fill out the survey.
“In the past few months we’ve been very encouraged by residents’ participation in this questionnaire,” said David Bond, associate director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College. “The addition of Dr. Carpenter and this final push will help bring the deep knowledge the community has of its own health into unfolding state and federal responses to PFOA in our region.”
PFOA has come under growing scrutiny as an emerging human health risk that unfolds on the scale of parts per trillion and over the course of decades. As researchers increasingly understand the subtle toxicity of PFOA, questions about potential illnesses have arisen in communities with PFOA contamination.
The questionnaire uses the findings of premier epidemiological studies of PFOA — namely, the C8 Science Panel — as a prompt to elicit local knowledge of the health impacts.
The C-8 Science Panel was conducted between 2005-2013 and involved 69,000 residents from West Virginia communities with PFOA-tainted drinking water. It concluded there is a “probable link” between exposure to PFOA and high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
The current questionnaire is supported by the Understanding PFOA project at Bennington College.
After Feb. 28, the results will be reported to the communities. The health questionnaire can be filled out online or in paper form. Members of the research team will be in affected communities in January to help residents complete it and to answer questions.
One challenge to conducting a project like this is getting former residents of the region to fill out the questionnaire, organizers said. Community members are encouraged to widely share the survey to former classmates or family members and friends who have moved away.
If residents have questions about the survey or would like a copy, they can contact Bond at 802-440-4324 or email
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