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Kudos To County Health Department For Finding Cause Of PFNA Contamination

Chatuauqua County Health Department officials and state DEC officials deserve credit for finding, in pretty short order, the cause of PFNA contamination in Mayville’s water system.

Give credit, too, to New York legislators who took action to more tightly regulate PFNA. It was new testing required by the state that tipped the village off to elevated levels of PFNA in village wells.

It turns out the contamination doesn’t appear to be the remnants of Mayville’s industrial past. Instead, the PFNA is the remnants of fire department training exercises using firefighting foam on the former Mayville High School football field from 2014 to 2018. Elevated levels of PFNA were found in a monitoring well drilled where the foam exercises were held, in areas near the football field and in the woods near the field.

There is good news — the PFNA exposure is short-term. The bad news is not much is known about what PFNA does when ingested by humans at low levels. It its believed high doses of the chemical can harm the liver, thyroid, immune system, contribute to high blood pressure, elevate cholesterol and delay growth and development. Again, there is some good news. DEC officials have said PFNA concerns are usually at much higher levels than were found in Mayville’s wells. County and village officials, we’re sure will pay attention to research about the health effects of small amounts of PFNA in humans.

For now, isolating the source of the contamination should provide a modicum of peace of mind for Mayville residents.

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