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Hudson Valley News

HV Congressman Is Blood Tested For PFOS In Newburgh To Raise Awareness

After learning in May of PFOS drinking water contamination, the New York state Department of Health began a blood testing program this month in Newburgh. And a Hudson Valley congressman is among those who have had their blood drawn. 

That’s Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney when he had his blood drawn November 7 at Cornerstone Family Healthcare’s Broadway location in Newburgh. Linda Muller is president and CEO of Cornerstone.

“I think it’s important. His office is in the City of Newburgh. He’s in our community and I think, I’m sure he drank the water while he’s been in his office,” Muller says. “But, not only for his sake, but I think it’s sending a message that he’s concerned and that it’s OK. Come in, get tested, it’s OK.”

He did drink the water since opening his district office in the city four years ago.

“So my office is at 123 Grand Street and, sure, I often drink the water, make coffee with it,” Maloney says.

And Maloney does want to raise awareness.

“So I hope all he residents of Newburgh, people who live and work here, will take advantage of this opportunity so we can get a good understanding of whether we’re dealing with something that should concern us or not,” says Maloney.

The state’s blood testing program for PFOS and PFOA levels began November 1, with appointments available at Cornerstone’s two locations, Broadway and Lake Street. Newburgh resident Clayton Buchanan and his wife were tested. He says he is very concerned.

“I probably drink at least 32 ounces out of the water out of Newburgh every day and have for at least 15 year probably, if not more,” Buchanan says.

He believes officials have addressed the PFOS contamination issue aptly, in terms of sourcing the contamination and taking the next steps concerning health.

“Plus, it’s giving us, as residents, it’s giving us an opportunity if there is anything for it to be determined and treated,” says Buchanan. “And I think that’s about the most responsible thing you can expect right now.”

Newburgh’s drinking water is safe as the city is drawing water from the Catskill Aqueduct while a permanent carbon filtration system is in the works for October 2017. City of Newburgh resident Stuart Sachs also arrived for a Monday appointment.

“Well, my concern is five different kinds of cancer and ingesting poison for decades and wondering what it’s going to do to me in the long term,” Sachs says. “But not only me, my daughter, I have a child who’s 11 and a wife as well.”

He also believes the state is doing a decent job in addressing the PFOS contamination but says community outreach is lacking.

“So they listened to the community’s concerns, and I think they’ve responded, and that’s important,” Sachs says. “I think to the extent that they haven’t really gotten the word out to the inner-city community is a big problem. So you’ll notice everybody sitting here is white and middle class. So I think we deserve testing as well but so does the poorer inner-city community and the word simply hasn’t gotten out to them.”

Shortly after Sachs said this, two African American women arrived for their appointments. During a public meeting in Newburgh in October, residents and officials spoke about the need for improved community outreach. Meanwhile, Muller says that while coming in for blood testing is important, following up with the results is key.

“The folks who are coming in to get tested and every resident that’s in the affected areas needs a primary care provider, somebody over the course of time that will be able to watch their blood results, be able to manage their healthcare and work with them in a partnership to see if there’s any fluctuations from the baseline report that they’ll receive,” Muller says.

She says if a person does not have a primary care provider, Cornerstone can fill that need. Muller says, so far, most of the appointments have been filled with just a few no-shows.

Blood testing at Cornerstone continues Thursday and there are November 12 and 19 appointments at the Lake Street location. Officials say they are prepared to extend the blood testing program beyond November. People who want their blood tested for PFOS levels should contact the state Department of Health.

For information/to schedule a blood test, call the NYS DOH at 518-402-7950 or email BEOE@health.ny.gov

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