Health consulation : Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Pease Tradeport Public Water System : EPA PWS ID: 1951020 : Pease Air Force Base : Portsmouth, Newington, and Greenland, New Hampshire : EPA Facility ID: NJ7570024847
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Health consulation : Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Pease Tradeport Public Water System : EPA PWS ID: 1951020 : Pease Air Force Base : Portsmouth, Newington, and Greenland, New Hampshire : EPA Facility ID: NJ7570024847

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    In April 2015, the U.S. Air Force asked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate past and current exposures to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Pease Tradeport public water system (PWS). The Pease Tradeport PWS serves the Pease International Tradeport and the New Hampshire Air National Guard base at the former Pease Air Force Base (AFB). The source of PFAS in the Pease Tradeport PWS is assumed to be from aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used on the former Pease AFB, now known as the Pease International Tradeport. This evaluation focuses on exposures to persons who worked at the Pease International Tradeport and children who attended the two childcare centers at the Pease International Tradeport from 1993 to the present. However, ATSDR acknowledges that exposures to military and base personnel could have occurred before 1993 through drinking water and other sources.

    Scientific information suggests an association between perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) exposure and various health endpoints, including effects on serum lipids, immune responses, fetal growth and development, and the liver. Several other PFAS were detected in the water, some of which have similar health endpoints as PFOA and PFOS (see Appendix A, Table A-1).

    The Harrison, Haven, and Smith wells provided water to the Pease Tradeport PWS. The wells were sampled and analyzed for several PFAS in April and May 2014 [CB&I 2015]. PFAS were found in each of the wells. At that time, only the Haven well, where the maximum concentration of PFOS was 2.5 μg/L, exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) provisional health advisory level of 0.2 micrograms per liter (μg/L) for PFOS. The Haven well, located near the middle of the Pease AFB airstrip, was shut down on May 12, 2014, immediately after the results were known. Since the Haven well was shut down, the Harrison and Smith wells have continued to provide water for the Pease Tradeport PWS, supplemented by water from the City of Portsmouth PWS (ID 1951010).

    ATSDR develops health-based comparison values (HBCVs) using available scientific findings about exposure levels and health effects. The HBCVs reflect an estimated contaminant concentration for a given chemical that is expected to cause no adverse health effects, assuming a standard daily water intake rate and body weight. To be conservative and protective of public health, HBCVs are generally based on contaminant concentrations many times lower than levels at which animal or human studies found no observable effects. ATSDR uses HBCVs in this health consultation to screen PFAS contaminant concentrations to determine if a further in-depth evaluation is needed which includes calculating an exposure dose and comparing these doses to ATSDR provisional minimal risk levels or MRLs.

    Drinking water sampling from June 2014 through May 2017 indicated that the maximum detected PFOS concentration was equal to ATSDR’s HBCV at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) office and above the HBCV at the water treatment plant. The treatment consists of corrosion control and then it is mixed to provide drinking water. A demonstration water treatment system (granular activated carbon filters) has been operational since September 2016. There were no exceedances of any other PFAS at any other sampling locations, which included two childcare centers and a fire station [City of Portsmouth 2017a]. A water treatment system to remove PFAS from the Smith and Harrison wells began operating on September 23, 2016. Tests of the treated water collected in October and November 2016 did not detect either PFOS or PFOA. Detection limits for PFAS typically range from 0.0026 μg/L for PFOS to 0.0046 μg/L for PFOA or 2.6 to 4.6 parts per trillion [Walton R. (Air Force Civil Engineer Center-BRAC Program Management Division) email to Gary Perlman (ATSDR), February 22, 2018, with datasheets, including Maxxam Analytics PFAS detection limits]. A few other PFAS occasionally were detected at very low concentrations. Both PFOA and PFOS were below EPA’s lifetime health advisory in all samples analyzed since June 2014.

    ATSDR evaluated PFAS exposures in the Pease Tradeport PWS for two timeframes. The first timeframe included the time when the Haven well was operational (1993 to May 2014). The second included the time when the Haven well was shut down (June 2014 to the present).

    On April 1, 2019, ATSDR released this health consultation report for public comment. The comment period ended on June 3, 2019. ATSDR received 76 comments from individuals, agencies, and a consultant during the public comment period. Appendix C provides responses to the comments received.


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