Alaska city’s residents offered blood testing for chemicals

November 15, 2019

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Residents of a Southeast Alaska city will be able to have their blood tested to detect chemical contaminants that may have spread through its water supply, officials said.

Samples will be taken next week in Gustavas, The Juneau Empire reported Thursday.

The samples will be sent to Indiana University Bloomington to be analyzed for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively called PFAS, officials said.

Gustavus PFAS Action Coalition Chair Kelly McLaughlin hopes for 40-65 participants in the collection and testing, which will be free to residents.

“I just feel really strongly everyone should know what their body burden is,” said McLaughlin, who had her blood tested early last year.

Studies have found links between the contaminants and various health impacts such as increased risk of cancer, low birth weights, increased cholesterol levels, lower fertility levels, and thyroid disruption, The Environmental Protection Agency said.

Most people around the state and country at some point have been exposed to the man-made chemicals, which are persistent in the environment. They have been found in groundwater around Alaska, officials said.

The chemicals have been detected in water supplies in Gustavas, west of Juneau, and the state has distributed drinking water to residents whose water tested above a specific threshold, officials said.

Gustavas is one of the only communities in the state participating in the biomonitoring study, said Pam Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics.

The Anchorage-based organization is helping to coordinate the study, provide supplies and assist with collection efforts. Indiana University will provide free testing, which can cost as much as $800.

The test results are expected by mid-January.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com