Governor’s Office denies state-funded blood tests for area affected by water contamination, despite risk to infants

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. -- The Governor's Office has denied state-funded blood testing for people affected by the West Morgan- East Lawrence water contamination. These tests would show how much of the contaminant are in a person's bloodstream.

The Governor's Office cites a CDC report that says most everyone should be unaffected-- except babies born into the contamination.

At an overflowing water board meeting last July, crowds gathered around the WHNT News 19 satellite truck to try to catch the conversation inside. Rumors swirled that Don Sims, the water board manager, who sounded the alarm for customers, might be fired.

People pled on his behalf. One resident told Sims, "When this come out, I had just learned, Mr. Sims, that my daughter was expecting. Every day she was aware was a day that she wasn't poisoning my grandchild."

The CDC report shows that baby and others like it could suffer because of exposure to the chemicals found in the contamination, PFOA and PFOS.

The report draws up two hazard indexes for kids to show whether they're at risk for harmful health effects. Children under the age of one proved at risk in both measures. Children under two showed risk in one of them.

The Governor's Office cites that CDC report when denying state-funded blood tests to the people affected by the contamination. The office says the report, which did rely on limited blood testing, shows the contamination is not expected to be harmful for anyone over the age of two.

In Hoosick Falls, New York they found a contamination of the same chemicals. In this case, New York did offer blood tests. The watchdog who helped uncover that contamination, Michael Hickey, told us, "The kids didn't ask for any of this. They need to be protected."

Hickey told us last summer, in the midst of many unknowns, "The most important part about these blood tests are that if it's found in your children at that age that there could be documentation for them to have the tests to check for those related illnesses throughout the process."

Hickey's father died from a PFOA-related cancer. He wonders if the blood work would have allowed his family to spot it in stage one rather than the stage four they found it in.

The governor's statement on blood tests says the tests are of little value because there's nothing to compare them to, the tests can't predict health problems, and physicians already screen for related health effects.

The health effects linked to PFOA and PFOS exposure include: diagnosed high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, developmental effects for fetuses, liver tissue damage, and immune system impairments.