What to Know About Hoosick Falls’ Water-Contamination Crisis

Amid a brewing public-health emergency, concerned residents express frustration with government action

Hoosick Falls, a village sitting about 30 miles north of Albany that’s home to 3,500 residents, is now existing amid an ocean of concern regarding the appearance of a potentially carcinogenic chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in its water supply. Production of Teflon in the area appears to have led to the contamination of Hoosick Falls’ water, and last December, the New York State Department of Health released a fact sheet informing village residents of PFOA dangers. That sheet was discussed at a contentious day-long hearing held in Hoosick Falls this Tuesday, during which sharp questioning of state officials underscored the frustrations of uneasy residents. Here’s what you need to know to about this ongoing crisis. 


  • Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office has confirmed the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant, located near the municipal wells that provide Hoosick Falls its drinking water, as a primary contamination source.


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  • Earlier this year, the EPA announced a lifetime health advisory for PFOA exposure in drinking water at 70 parts per billion. This standard is far below what was discovered in Hoosick Falls’ drinking water.


  • While not yet labeled as a carcinogen, PFOA has been linked to cancer and several other ill-health effects.



  •  Although State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker has claimed that the EPA’s handling of PFOA contamination was confusing, warranting reimbursement for funds spent investigating the issue, the Wall Street Journal reports that EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck counters that her agency advised the state to tell residents not to drink the water, but the state “decided not to offer clarity.”


  • Per Albany’s Times Union, Congress’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has launched its own investigation into the contamination.


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  • The aforementioned Departmnent of Health fact sheet was a source of contention at this Tuesday’s hearing, reports the New York Times, during which State Senator Kemp Hannon criticized officials for not warning against consumption of the village’s tap water, calling their information “inconsistent.” 


  • In addition, several concerned and affected residents were given the floor to testify at the hearing, making clear their collective frustration with local, state, and federal government action.


  • Two more hearings are scheduled on the matter for September 7 and 12. 




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