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Biomonitoring (Blood Tests) Finally Approved By State Health Department For Westhampton Residents Affected By Contaminated Well Water

Use of the compound has been traced back to the Air National Guard base where fire suppression foam used by firefighters in training contained the contaminant. (Nicole A. Flotteron/USAF ANG 106)

The New York State Department of Health has recently agreed that biomonitoring (blood tests) will now be available to homeowners in Westhampton living near Francis S. Gabreski Airport. The testing is a result of traceable contamination of private well water of the dangerous compound PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid).

The airport has been designated as a State Superfund by the State Department of Health after the chemical PFOS was added to the list of hazardous chemicals. This designation now allows for biomonitoring tests to be initiated. After more than 50 homes were tested, the state has established that the U.S. Department of Defense is culpable for the contamination, and should assume some financial responsibility.

The airport is owned by Suffolk County, and use of the compound has been traced back to the Air National Guard base where fire suppression foam used by firefighters in training contained the contaminant. Many residents are concerned about the adverse effects to their health after having ingested the contaminant.

After an initial request made more than three months ago by both Senator Kenneth LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. went unanswered and were ignored, both state representatives continued their efforts to have the State Department of Health offer this program for those who may have been drinking contaminated water for years or maybe even decades. There will be no fees incurred by those wishing to undergo the blood testing, although just how the program will be paid for has not as yet been determined.

The pressure on the State Health Department to offer testing came after a discovery of two chemicals PFOS and PFOA were detected in private wells of homes not only in Westhampton, but Westhampton Beach and Quiogue as well. After testing, the contaminant was found in eight homes in these areas. Additionally, the installation of new public water mains in Westhampton Beach has occurred as a result of the water testing.

In all, more than 100 homes in Suffolk County have been tested for the contaminant, and now that the State Health Department has agreed to the biomonitoring testing, it is expected that a prompt outline of exactly when and where testing will commence with be expeditiously forthcoming. Both Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele have advised they will continue to keep residents informed on any information received from the State Department of Health on when testing will begin, as well as avow to keep the pressure on the Health Dept. to begin testing as soon as possible.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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