Following news that United States Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand secured nearly $900,000 in funding for New York State to study the effects of PFAS chemicals, Assemblymember Jonathan G. Jacobson (D-104) sent a letter urging Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to expedite the study.
The City of Newburgh’s water supply has been contaminated by PFOA, PFOS, and related chemicals due to the fire-fighting foam used at Stewart Airport, including the Stewart Air National Guard Base. Newburgh is now hooked up to the Catskill Aqueduct and receives the same water that is supplied to New York City.
Beginning in November 2016, the Department of Health conducted blood testing to determine the levels of these chemicals in individuals who have been drinking the City of Newburgh water, both residents and those who worked in the City of Newburgh.
In his letter, Jacobson noted that he had his blood tested along with other Newburgh residents.
But when he and his fellow residents went to public forums to find out what the PFAS levels in the blood tests meant for their health in the future, the Department of Health was unable to give any answers. They simply said, “We don’t know.”
Jacobson said that in light of this funding, the Department should now be able to move swiftly to obtain an answer for residents of Newburgh and other municipalities affected by PFOA and PFOS contaminated drinking water. Jacobson urged the Commissioner to “give some assurance to the public by announcing a timetable that would indicate when they might expect to learn the answers to their questions.”
“Like every other resident, I want an answer to the basic question, ‘What do the levels in my blood test results mean for my future health?” That is the minimum we should expect from the Department of Health, said Jacobson.