- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

POWNAL, Vt. (AP) - Tests of a public water supply in Pownal found low-levels of the potentially cancer-causing chemical that has been found in about 100 private wells in neighboring Bennington, the Vermont governor’s office said Thursday.

State officials are arranging for the distribution of bottled drinking water to people in the affected Pownal homes, and a public meeting has been set for Monday. Officials said they don’t suspect the contamination is widespread, but plan to conduct more tests.

PFOA, or perfluorooctonaoic acid, is part of a family of chemicals used to make nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpeting. Three samples taken from the Fire District No. 2 municipal water source in Pownal that serves about 450 people found levels of the chemical PFOA of between 26 parts per trillion and 27 parts per trillion.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory level for short-term exposure of PFOA is 400 parts per trillion. Vermont’s advisory is 20 parts per trillion based on the chemical being ingested by a child younger than 1.

Following news reports of potential PFOA contamination in nearby Hoosick Falls, New York, Vermont tested public and private wells in North Bennington, about 10 miles north of Pownal, surrounding a now-closed plant that used to use the chemical. The public wells in North Bennington and Bennington weren’t affected, but a number of private wells in the area were shown to have levels above 20 ppt.

Vermont officials tested the water supply in Pownal after a number of residents reported possible dumping at a former manufacturing site in the community.

Between 2013 and 2015, Vermont sampled 10 municipal supplies around the state for PFOA and other chemicals; the Pownal test results marked the first time the chemical has been found in a public drinking water system.

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