Video on the Proposed Study of Effects of PFAS Drinking Water
Contaminants on Children's Immune Systems

Testing for Pease in partnership with Northeastern University and Silent Spring Institute are applying for a grant to conduct a health study. This proposed study would look at the immune function of children impacted by PFAS exposure in the Pease community. Please watch this video regarding children who drank water at Pease or children born to parents who drank water at Pease. Please then give use your feedback on the study design by completing our quick survey (link below).  Thank you!

*If your child was exposed to PFAS contaminated water at Pease, please complete this quick anonymous survey to provide feedback on the proposed study:


The former Pease Air Force Base (currently the Pease International Tradeport) was in operation from 1956 to 1991 and was
declared a Superfund site in 1991. As a superfund site,
it is monitored by the NH DES and the EPA. 

On May 12, 2014 the City of Portsmouth was informed by the New Hampshire DES (Department of Environmental Services) that water samples collected from the Haven well on the Pease Tradeport on April 16, 2014 detected chemicals called PFCs. The Haven well was immediately shut down due to levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) testing at 12.5 times the 2009 PHA (Provisional Health Advisory) established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The perfluorochemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) was also detected, but with levels testing just below the PHA.  The other two wells serving the Pease Tradeport, the Smith and the Harrison wells, also detected PFOS and PFOA, however, both wells indicated levels below the 2009 PHAs.  

PHA vs Pease Haven Well PFC Levels

Units measured in micrograms per liter (µg/L)

EPA Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) - May 2016 (PDF)
Under EPA’s Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment (USEPA 2005), there is Suggestive Evidence of Carcinogenic Potential for PFOA. Epidemiology studies demonstrate an association of serum PFOA with kidney and testicular tumors among highly exposed members of the general population.

EPA Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) - May 2016 (PDF)
Adverse effects observed following exposures to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and PFOS are the same or similar and include effects in humans on serum lipids, birth weight, and serum antibodies. Some of the animal studies show common effects on the liver, neonate development, and responses to immunological challenges. Both compounds were also associated with tumors in long-term animal studies.

  • ATSDR's Health Effects of PFCs | Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
    According to the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), studies in humans have shown that certain PFCs may be associated with:
    • Developmental delays in the fetus and child, including possible changes in growth, learning, and behavior.
    • Decreased fertility and changes to the body’s natural hormones,
    • Increased cholesterol,
    • Changes to the immune system,
    • Increased uric acid levels
    • Changes in liver enzymes
    • Prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer
  • The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) list the potential health effects associated with PFCs as:
    • Changes to the liver enzymes levels
    • Increases in cholesterol levels
    • Increases in uric acid levels, which may affect blood pressure
    • Changes in sex hormone levels that could affect reproductive development and puberty
    • Changes in thyroid hormone levels
    • Lower immune function (lower antibody response to immunization)
    • Effects on growth and development (lower birth weight in infants, obesity in adolescents/adults, cognitive and behavioral development)
    • Decreased kidney function
    • Incidence of insulin resistance and diabetes
    • Occurrence of some types of cancers: prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer

Healthcare Provider Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) April 6, 2016

  • PFCs are a family of man-made chemicals that have been used industrially and in consumer products since the 1950s
    According to the EPA, “These chemicals are persistent, and resist degradation in the environment. They also bioaccumulate, meaning their concentration increases over time in the blood and organs. At high concentrations, certain PFCs have been linked to adverse health effects in laboratory animals that may reflect associations between exposure to these chemicals and some health problems such as low birth weight, delayed puberty onset, elevated cholesterol levels, and reduced immunologic responses to vaccination.” 
  • Both PFOS and PFOA are classified by the EPA as emerging contaminants 
    An “emerging contaminant is a chemical or material that is characterized by a perceived, potential or real threat to human health or the environment or by a lack of published health standards.” Also according to the EPA:
    • The toxicity, mobility and bioaccumulation potential of PFOS and PFOA pose potential adverse effects for the environment and human health. 
    • Toxicology studies show that PFOS and PFOA are readily absorbed after oral exposure and accumulate primarily in the serum, kidney, and liver.
    • Studies also indicate that continued exposure to low levels of PFOA in drinking water may result in adverse health effects.
    • In May 2006, the EPA Science Advisory Board suggested that PFOA cancer data are consistent with the EPA guidelines for the Carcinogen Risk Assessment descriptor “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”  
    • The chronic exposure to PFOS and PFOA can lead to the development of tumors in the liver of rats; however, more research is needed to determine if there are similar cancer risks for humans.
    • In a retrospective cohort mortality study of more than 6,000 PFOA-exposed employees at one plant, results identified elevated standardized mortality ratios for kidney cancer and a statistically significant increase in diabetes mortality for male workers. 
    • Analysis of U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey representative study samples indicate that higher concentrations of serum PFOA and PFOS are associated with thyroid disease in the U.S. general adult population.
  • Half-life of PFCs (PDF)
    The half-life is how long it would take for half of the chemical to be eliminated from the body, assuming no additional exposure. The half-lives of PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS are as follows:

* PFOA has a range of 2.3 - 3.8 years
  • PFOS, PFOA and PFHxs are long-chain PFCs (PDF)  
    According to the EPA’s Long Term PFCs Action Plan (2009), “Long-chain PFCs are a concern for children’s health. Studies in laboratory animals have demonstrated developmental toxicity, including neonatal mortality. Children’s exposures are greater than adults due to increased intakes of food, water, and air per pound of body weight, as well as child-specific exposure pathways such as breast milk consumption, mouthing and ingestion of non-food items, and increased contact with the floor. Biomonitoring studies have found PFCs in cord blood and breast milk, and have reported that children have higher levels of some PFCs compared to adults. Thus, given the pervasive exposure to PFCs, the persistence of PFCs in the environment, and studies finding deleterious health effects, EPA will examine the potential risks to fetuses and children.“ 
  • C8 Science Panel (C8 is also known as PFOA)  
    “During 2005-2013, the C8 Science Panel carried out exposure and health studies in the Mid-Ohio Valley communities, which had been potentially affected by the releases of PFOA (or C8) emitted since the 1950s from the Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. They then assessed the links between C8 exposure and a number of diseases.”  According to the C8 Science Panel, “For six disease categories, the Science Panel concluded that there was a Probable Link to C8 exposure: diagnosed high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.”

Findings from the C8 Science Panel

Date Probable Link Not a Probable Link
Dec 5, 2011
Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension & Preeclampsia Birth defects
Premature birth or low birth weight
Miscarriage and stillbirths
Apr 16, 2012
Testicular cancer
Kidney cancer
Adult-onset diabetes
Other types of cancer
Jul 30, 2012 Thyroid disease
Ulcerative colitis
Asthma or chronic obstructive airways
Neurodevelopmental disorders in children
Autoimmune diseases
Oct 29, 2012 High cholesterol Parkinson’s disease
Liver disease
Chronic kidney disease
High blood pressure
Coronary heart disease

Source: Environmental Working Group, from C8 Science Panel Probable Link Reports

Additional Studies on Health Hazards of C8/PFOA, PFOS and Other Long-chain1 PFCs

Study Finding
Gump 2011
Children exposed to increased levels of PFCs may have increased impulsivity.
Knox 2011
PFCs are associated with endocrine disruption in women.
Shankar 2012
Exposure to high levels of C8/PFOA may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Grandjean 2012
Prenatal exposure to long-chain PFCs may reduce the effectiveness of children’s vaccines.
Maisonet 2012
A pregnant woman’s exposure to PFOA, PFOS and other long-chain PFCs may result in baby’s low birth weight and slowed growth as a toddler.
Halldorsoson 2012
Babies whose mothers had had higher blood levels of PFOA during pregnancy are more likely to be obese at age 20.
Kristensen 2013
Prenatal exposure to PFOA may delay the onset of puberty.
Taylor 2014
Women with higher levels of long-chain PFCs in blood may be more likely to experience early menopause.
1 Perfluorinated compounds with eight or more carbon atoms

Source: Environmental Working Group, from studies as cited