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High levels of chemicals detected in well water near Allenstown landfill



Monitor staff
Monday, January 08, 2018

Elevated levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals have been detected at a monitoring well in Allenstown’s landfill.

Town Administrator Shaun Mulholland said he plans to ask the select board Monday to green-light further testing in a handful of nearby drinking wells after PFAs – per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which include PFOs and PFOA – were detected at levels three times the state’s allowable standard.

PFAs are emerging contaminants that were widely used for decades in commercial products and in industrial processes. They were found in nonstick cookware, carpeting – even ski wax.

PFAs have impacted groundwater in several communities across New Hamphire, including North Hampton’s Coakley landfill, which has been the subject of a cancer cluster reported in Seacoast cities and towns.

“I’d be surprised if every landfill in the state doesn’t come back with PFAs,” Mulholland said.

Allenstown commissioned Nobis Engineering, a Concord-based firm, to test for the chemicals at its landfill in November after the state last year issued new directives to all landfills, public and private.

Nobis tested three sites at the 165 Granite St. landfill for PFAs. Two detected PFA levels well below the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services standard of 70 parts per trillion. But one monitoring well detected PFA levels at 210 parts per trillion, three times the limit.

Allenstown received the results last week, Mulholland said, and has identified seven drinking wells within a 1,300-foot radius of the monitoring well where elevated PFA levels were found. The town doesn’t yet know whether all of those drinking wells are actually being used. Most nearby residents are on municipal water, he said.

Mulholland said last week the state will probably ask that Allenstown test those drinking wells anyway once they review the results, but he plans to ask the select board on Monday to approve testing right away.

“It’s prudent for us to ask those folks, to make sure that they have safe drinking water,” Mulholland said.

Studies have suggested links between the chemicals and increased cholesterol, certain cancers, immune system impacts, low birth weights and thyroid hormone disruption, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)