The Bulletin Board

Proposal to fund cleanup of harmful ‘forever chemicals’ signed into law

By: - August 27, 2021 2:47 pm
A young girl fills a glass of water at a kitchen sink

The $1 billion figure breaks down to about $450 million needed for drinking water infrastructure and $550 million in wastewater infrastructure. (Getty Images)

A new law that was signed this week allows the state government to provide funding to municipalities and wastewater systems to clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. House Bill 271 also sets maximum contaminant levels for PFAS in drinking water.

The law includes a limit of 11 to 15 parts per trillion for the various kinds of PFAS chemicals. One part per trillion is like one drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool. Since PFAS bioaccumulate, even small amounts of the substance add up over time.

The harmful class of chemicals has been linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, but the EPA hasn’t established a maximum contaminant level for this particular pollutant.

Under the new legislation, which had bipartisan support, the Department of Environmental Services will be able to offer grants and loans to eligible entities in the state.

“The existence of these man-made chemicals, some of which are occurring at unhealthy levels in New Hampshire’s drinking water, require a strategy to protect, preserve, and enhance the water that New Hampshire citizens and environment rely upon,” reads the bill, which was signed into law on Tuesday.

Rep. Rosemarie Rung, a Merrimack Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a written statement the funding would benefit “hundreds of Granite State families who are impacted daily by dangerous water conditions.”

The money will come from the PFAS remediation loan fund, which was established during the last biennium.

“These grants will reduce the cost of projects borne by the communities and in turn help keep water rates affordable,” said Senate President Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican.

The law went into effect on Tuesday.  

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.