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A new survey shows discrimination in medical settings affects quality of care; U.S. Supreme Court rejects vaccine and testing mandates for businesses; and New York moves toward electric school buses.

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U.S. House passes a new voting rights bill, setting up a Senate showdown; President Biden announces expanded COVID testing, and Jan. 6 Committee requests an interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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Merrimack Residents: Stop the Source of PFAS "Forever Chemicals"

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Thursday, October 21, 2021   

MERRIMACK, N.H. -- This week, both Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are taking action to combat a class of so-called "forever chemicals" called Perfluorinated and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) found in thousands of consumer products, but environmental groups say change is not coming fast enough.

PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancers, reproductive problems, high cholesterol and more.

Laurene Allen, founder of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water, said her group formed after the community learned of air emissions containing PFAS from the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack.

She pointed out it has contaminated the region's groundwater, and six public water wells.

"Over 200,000 people have contaminated drinking water," Allen observed. "We have 3,100 private wells currently on the list of testing."

This week, the EPA released a roadmap for combatting PFAS air pollution, but members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation are urging the agency to follow up with more regulations.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., co-introduced the PROTECT Act, which would put several types of PFAS on the EPA's list of Hazardous Air Pollutants, regulated by the Clean Air Act.

In addition to issues like water contamination, PFAS can be found in many consumer products, from food and packaging to shampoo and makeup.

New Hampshire has made some progress at the state level. In 2020, a bill passed to address contamination, set up a Drinking Water Protection Program and require insurance to cover blood testing, among other measures.

But Allen noted more federal steps are needed to stop PFAS pollution.

"There are so many needs in terms of health support and money to remediate, and accountability," Allen contended. "But ultimately, when you define a problem, to me, the first thing you would do is shut off the tap, right? So, stopping the source is air emissions and discharges to waterways."

The Saint-Gobain company said it is working to reduce PFAS emissions, but lawsuits have been filed by the state and town of Merrimack to close the factory until required updates are installed.


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