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Partnership to understand and reduce exposure to harmful contaminants in Hooksett

Date: July 01, 2021

Routine sampling conducted in Hooksett for a State project showed uranium present in groundwater at high levels. Knowing that a large proportion of Hooksett residents get their water from residential wells and that drinking water with high levels of uranium puts people at risk for negative health outcomes, a cross-agency team from NHDES and the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) was formed to respond.

NHDES worked in coordination with NH DPHS, and with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and implement a plan to sample residential well-water in the Hooksett community, with a goal of characterizing risk and developing health-based recommendations to reduce exposure and risk.

Testing of residential wells in Hooksett showed that residents of the community are more likely to be exposed to high levels of uranium and radon compared to other New Hampshire residents; and some residents are also exposed to other contaminants of concern, including arsenic, manganese and PFAS. Health-based recommendations included additional water testing, home air testing for radon gas, and installation of treatment where indicated by results.

In partnership with programs from across NHDES and DPHS, the APPLETREE (the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) Partnership to Promote Local Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposures) team drafted a findings report with recommendations, and coordinated a presentation to town administration and community members. In addition, a summary document was created and will be distributed with an upcoming town-wide mailing. The APPLETREE team will continue to work with the town of Hooksett to engage the community and facilitate action to promote reduction of exposure to harmful contamination. 

The APPLETREE team includes staff from NHDES and from DPHS. We have expertise in health risk assessment, toxicology, epidemiology, health education, community engagement and project management. Through funding from ATSDR, we can work with communities to reduce exposure to environmental hazards, and in turn reduce risk for negative health outcomes associated with exposure. Reach out to karen.m.craver@des.nh.gov to learn more about how they can partner with you to promote public health!