A U.S. Senator wants Newburgh residents to receive free blood tests for drinking potentially harmful water.

In May 2016, City of Newburgh residents learned their drinking water supply was contaminated with the man-made chemical Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) at concentrations above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently updated lifetime drinking water health advisory level. PFOS is a potentially toxic chemical.

Tuesday, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention urging the agency to partner with the New York State Department of Health to offer blood testing for PFOS to residents of Newburgh.

“Residents of Newburgh should be able to drink their water without having to worry about whether it is going to harm them, and they have a right to know the extent of how this water crisis has already affected them,” said Senator Gillibrand stated. “We need to use every tool and resource the government has, from testing to funding to scientific expertise, to fully investigate the sources of this contamination and prevent it from happening again. I urge the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to work with their partners at the New York State Department of Health to offer blood testing to residents of Newburgh, so that they can finally begin to have clarity about the extent of this problem.”

Studies show that exposure to PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, liver damage, low birth weight, and other serious health effects.

In her letter to the CDC, which was released to the media, Senator Gillibrand adds

“While we do not yet know what specific level of PFOS in a person's blood might result in adverse health effects, blood test results can provide the following benefits: help shed light on the extent of residents’ exposure to PFOS; enable residents to compare their PFOS blood levels to those in other communities where residents have been exposed to elevated levels of PFOS and other PFAS; and be added to residents’ medical files to help inform their discussions with medical providers.”