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Jun 16, 2016 11:12 PM

Pease community frustrated over health department explanation of blood test results

PORTSMOUTH - Seacoast residents exposed to water contaminated by perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, met at the Community Campus in Portsmouth on Thursday to review the results of blood tests conducted last year.

The Department of Health and Human Services conducted blood tests between April and October of 2015 on people who worked on, lived on, or went to daycare on Pease Tradeport.

The final report on the results of those nearly 1,600 blood test were released Thursday. They show more than 94 percent of participants had high levels of three different PFCs in their blood.

Thursday’s meeting was scheduled to review the specifics of the results and allow community members to ask questions. However, only a few dozen people showed up. Of those in attendance, they still left frustrated and with unanswered concerns.

“We just want to know what’s happening going forward, and maybe have a stronger plan than just, ‘Here are your numbers,’” said Marcey LaFleur, who has significantly higher levels of PFCs in her blood than the national average.

LaFleur said she was looking for more long-term answers, both medically and statistically. However, the DHHS is still working on getting those answers.

“Right now all we can really do is empathize with that sense of frustration around the uncertainty because not only is it scary for people and what it might mean for their health but it’s also a challenge for us,” said Jake Leon, spokesperson for the department.

Leon added the department will continue to hold meetings and give opportunities for the public to ask questions about the results. For now, it’s deferring all medical questions to residents’ primary care physician.

The department will also soon expand the blood test program by starting another round for those affected at Pease and expanding it to other southern New Hampshire communities with contaminated water, including Amherst, Bedford, Litchfield, Manchester and Merrimack.

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