Kearsarge Regional School District Takes Action after Elevated Levels of PFOA Detected in Water Sample at Middle School

Kearsarge Regional School District
Superintendent Winfried Feneberg
114 Cougar Court
New London, NH 03257

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019

Contact: Jordan Mayblum
Phone: 978-769-5193
Email: [email protected]

Kearsarge Regional School District Takes Action after Elevated Levels of PFOA Detected in Water Sample at Middle School

Water Faucet Shut Down, Bottled Drinking Water Deployed School-Wide

All Kearsarge Schools to Undergo Standard Water Testing

NEW LONDON – Superintendent Winfried Feneberg reports that the Kearsarge Regional School District is taking action after one faucet at the Kearsarge Regional Middle School tested positive for elevated levels of a regulated chemical called PFOA.

While the district has been notified that this is not an emergency situation, the district has placed all water fountains out of service at the middle school. Additional testing is also underway at all schools in the district. 

Additional steps being taken to correct the situation include:

  • The district has already collected additional confirmation samples, the results of which will govern further action.
  • The district is investigating appropriate water treatment options and has consulted with a list of treatment providers published by the state.
  • Bottled drinking water is being provided for everyone’s convenience.

“The health and wellness of our students and employees is paramount at the Kearsarge Regional School District,” Superintendent Feneberg said. “While we have been informed that this test result does not constitute an emergency, we nonetheless are taking strict actions to ensure that those in our middle school and other facilities do not consume water containing any elevated amounts of these chemicals, for which the state has this year enacted strict regulations and testing requirements.”

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) notified Kearsarge that a faucet in the nurse’s office of the middle school tested positive for elevated levels of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). NHDES recently adopted new, more stringent drinking water standards for chemicals known as poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFOA is part of a family of man-made chemicals that were used for decades as ingredients to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water. Many chemicals in this group, including PFOA, are commonly present in the environment and do not break down easily. Studies have shown that nearly all people have some level of these chemicals in their blood. Studies indicate that people who drink water containing high quantities of these chemicals over many years may be at higher risk of liver and endocrine problems, certain types of cancer, higher cholesterol levels and fertility issues in women.

These chemicals have been found in the water supplies of every county in New Hampshire. Over the summer, New Hampshire adapted the strongest regulations of these chemicals in the nation. As the state law is new, every water system serving 25 or more people for at least six months per year is required to adhere –therefore, follow-up test results may be backlogged due to a spike in demand for water testing statewide.

The district’s water testing vendor is Secondwind Water Systems, out of Manchester.

At the middle school nurse’s office, PFOA was measured in the faucet at 153 parts-per-trillion (ppt), and the state standard is 12 ppt, which triggers an automatic warning to the community. The tests were conducted earlier this month, and the results may be downloaded here.

This was the first such test conducted in accordance with the new law, which went into effect for water supplies during the fourth quarter of 2019 and requires ongoing quarterly testing for the PFAS chemicals.

For those with specific health questions or concerns, the state has made a hotline available at the NHDES Environmental Health Program: 603-271-4608.