City re­futes ‘in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing’ Har­vard study

Newark Post - - Local News - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­

City of­fi­cials are speak­ing out against an “in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing” Har­vard study that claimed Ne­wark’s drink­ing wa­ter con­tains an unsafe level of toxic chem­i­cals.

The study, pub­lished last week, looked at the preva­lence of polyflu­o­roalkyl and per­flu­o­roalkyl sub­stances (PFASs) in Amer­ica’s drink­ing wa­ter. PFASs are used in a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts like food wrap­pers, cloth­ing and pots and pans. They have been linked to high choles­terol, cancer, obe­sity and other ail­ments, ac­cord­ing to the Har­vard re­searchers.

The study – which drew at­ten­tion from a va­ri­ety of na­tional me­dia out­lets – specif­i­cally men­tioned Ne­wark’s wa­ter as hav­ing 25 times the rec­om­mended level of the chem­i­cals.

How­ever, city of­fi­cials said the study used EPA data taken from a well near the New Cas­tle Air­port, which has no con­nec­tion to the city of Ne­wark’s wa­ter sup­ply.

“The city of Ne­wark is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing the safety and well­be­ing of its res­i­dents and vis­i­tors,” City Man­ager Carol Houck said in a pre­pared state­ment. “A re­cent Har­vard study pub­li­ca­tion in­di­cated unsafe lev­els of spe­cific in­dus­trial chem­i­cals had been de­tected in Ne­wark’s drink­ing wa­ter — but the in­for­ma­tion is in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing.”

City spokes­woman Kelly Bach­man ex­plained that the data from the EPA was listed by zip code, and the re­searchers at­trib­uted the zip code in ques­tion to Ne­wark, even though the well is not in city lim­its.

Houck said Ne­wark par­tic­i­pated in the EPA study, but no PFASs were found in the city’s wa­ter sup- ply, which is drawn from White Clay Creek and a well field on South Chapel Street, be­tween Scot­tfield and Brook­side.

“We are con­fi­dent our wa­ter qual­ity meets or ex­ceeds qual­ity stan­dards and does not pose any risk to those who con­sume it,” Houck said.

Bach­man added that the Har­vard re­searchers agreed to cor­rect the study af­ter hear­ing the city’s con­cerns. She re­leased a mes­sage she said the city re­ceived from Har­vard.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that our press re­lease may cause un­due con­cern to the wa­ter con­sumers of Ne­wark, DE,” the mes­sage reads. “There­fore we have re­moved from the Har­vard press re­lease the ref­er­ence to your town. In ad­di­tion, we have added ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion to the de­scrip­tion of the map to help read­ers bet­ter un­der­stand what the map rep­re­sents.”

Bach­man said the city has heard from sev­eral con­cerned res­i­dents since the orig­i­nal study was re­leased. She plans to re­quest cor­rec­tions from the na­tional me­dia out­lets – such as CNN and CBS News – that men­tioned Ne­wark in their re­port­ing of the study.

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