HOOSICK FALLS — Rob Allen rushed home from his teaching job on Tuesday to find his wife at home weeping and curled in a fetal position.
She has been upset since four separate envelopes arrived from the state Department of Health the other day. Each was addressed to one of her children, and the letters said the children have dangerous levels of a toxic chemical in their bloodstream. Their youngest daughter, who is still breastfeeding, had the highest level of the toxin, known as PFOA, coming in at 112 parts per billion. The median number for 2,000 town residents who were tested was 23 parts per billion.
For almost the baby’s entire life, state and village officials had assured the family that their water was safe, Allen said. The children’s numbers are higher than their parents', and Allen's wife is concerned that PFOA passed through her and into the bodies of her children.
"My daughter was five months old when the village and state knew [about the contamination], and my daughter is 18 months old when the village and state finally said don’t drink your water,” he said.
People in Hoosick falls have 50 to 100 times the level of toxins in the blood compared to national levels.
The state knew that the water was contaminated for a year but refused to say anything publicly.
That is not sitting well with the people of Hoosick Falls as the blood test results are coming back and showing the alarmingly high levels of toxins in the blood of the people of the town:
Allen said, among the dozens of people with whom he has spoken in town, young children seem to be displaying far higher numbers than their parents.
Allen said he feels betrayed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration and by elected officials who waited more than a year to warn village residents away from drinking their water, which was tainted with PFOA by nearby facilities that made teflon products.
Other young families, where mothers are breastfeeding their children, have been crushed by the news, particularly those with children who were young enough that they could have avoided the water altogether if state and local officials had alerted the public.
“There is this whole contingent who are devastated, utterly devastated, that that utterly perfect time of nursing a child has been corrupted,” he said. “Now, they’re wondering if they’ve done the right thing. There is so much guilt out there that is [affecting] mothers.”