ATSDR releases health consultation report on PFAS in the Pease Public Water System

April 2, 2019

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released for public comment its health consultation report, “Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Pease Public Water System,” in Portsmouth, Newington, and Greenland, New Hampshire. ATSDR will accept comments from the public until June 3, 2019.

The report concluded that workers at Pease International Tradeport and children attending the childcare centers were exposed to PFAS in contaminated drinking water at the Pease International Tradeport. Those exposures occurred from 1993 until the Haven Well was shut down in May 2014. People exposed to drinking water from the Pease Tradeport Public Water System (PWS) during this period might be at increased risk for some harmful health effects. The cancer risk from past exposure to all PFAS in the Pease Tradeport PWS is uncertain.

The full report can be accessed at


After reviewing the available information, considering all factors that may contribute to the health effects of PFAS exposures, ATSDR reached three conclusions. ATSDR’s conclusions are limited by several uncertainties relating to the human health risks from PFAS exposures. Because of these uncertainties, ATSDR used a conservative approach, including several lines of evidence (see Summary of Public Health Implications for details) to evaluate the public health implications of past PFAS exposure to the Pease Tradeport PWS.

  • Conclusion 1: Drinking water exposures from the Pease Tradeport PWS from 1993 to May 2014, before the Haven Well was shut down, could have increased the risk for harmful health effects to Pease International Tradeport workers and children attending the childcare centers. Other sources of PFAS exposure (e.g., from food and consumer products) to users of the Pease Tradeport PWS could increase the risk of harmful effects beyond the risk from the drinking water exposures alone.  The cancer risk from past exposure to all PFAS in the Pease Tradeport PWS is uncertain.
  • Conclusion 2: Consuming water containing low levels of PFAS from the Pease Tradeport PWS since June 2014 is not expected to cause harm to the public.
  • Conclusion 3: Based on available scientific information, ATSDR concludes that the health and nutritional benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks associated with PFAS in breast milk.

Next Steps

This draft report will have a public comment period until June 3, 2019. The public comment period provides the community and other stakeholders the opportunity to review the report and provide input.

On Monday, April 15, 2019, ATSDR staff will attend the Portsmouth City Council and Newington Select Board meetings to discuss the Health Consultation findings. On Tuesday, April 16, 2019, ATSDR will host Public Availability Sessions at the Great Bay Community College 4th Floor, Room 422, 320 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth. Community members or interested individuals can drop in at any time during the three available sessions to talk individually with ATSDR staff. The sessions will be at: 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., 12:00 (noon) - 4:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Water System Updates

The two currently operating Pease Tradeport water supply wells continue to be treated by granular activated carbon (GAC) and construction is set to begin this month of the new resin/GAC water treatment system for all three Pease wells. Water quality monitoring of the treatment system and wells continues and updates are posted periodically for both the Pease Tradeport and Portsmouth drinking water systems at:

Image: Rendering of new water treatment system to be built at Pease Tradeport.

New Pease Water Treatment Rendering