Pease Study

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
About the Study

The Pease Study is the first site of the national, Multi-site Study, which looks at the human health effects of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) exposure through drinking contaminated water. CDC/ATSDR will use the Pease Study to evaluate and improve procedures and methods for the Multi-site Study design.

As of December 31, 2021, Pease Study enrollment has ended. CDC/ATSDR is processing and analyzing blood and urine samples and will mail individual results to participants. CDC/ATSDR will write a final report summarizing the findings and recommendations and will share this information with the community.

Eligibility for the Pease Study included:

  • Adults aged 18 or older who worked or attended school at Pease International Tradeport at any time from January 2004 to May 2014, or
  • Who lived in Newington, NH, at any time from January 2004 to the present and used a private well with documented PFAS contamination.
  • Children aged 4 through 17 who received parent or guardian study participation permission and who attended daycare at Pease International Tradeport at any time from 2004 to May 2014 or
  • Were born to and/or breastfed by a mother who met the adult eligibility criteria were eligible.
  • A small group of adults who never drank water from Pease International Tradeport and whose occupation or education did not expose them to PFAS, and children who never drank water from Pease International Tradeport, were also eligible to participate.

Individuals who had ever been employed as a firefighter, participated in fire training exercises using aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), or employed at industrial facilities that used PFAS chemicals in the manufacturing process were not eligible to participate in the study.  More specifically, it would be difficult to determine if elevated PFAS levels were from drinking contaminated water or from their exposure to PFAS at work. The Pease Study is learning more about exposure to contaminated drinking water.  Similarly, children born to mothers who had any of these occupational exposures were not eligible to participate in the study either.

If you have questions about the study, please email us at PeaseStudy@cdc.gov.

Pease Study Process: Step 1 Community Engagement, Step 2 Recruitment, Step 3 Data Collection, Step 4 Analysis, Step 5 Individual Results, Set 6 Community Event, and Step 7 Study Results
Background

Approximately 8,000 people work at or frequent the Pease International Tradeport. There are also two daycare centers located on the site. In May 2014, drinking water wells that supply the Pease International Tradeport were sampled. The Haven Well, one of three wells that serves the Pease International Tradeport and the New Hampshire Air National Guard base at Pease, showed elevated levels of the unregulated contaminant perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). How long PFOS may have been present in this well is not clear.

Because the level of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) exceeded the “provisional health advisory” set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the well was shut down by the City of Portsmouth on May 12, 2014, and since that time it has been physically disconnected from the system. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services asked CDC/ATSDR to help evaluate possible follow-up actions.

Background materials:

Pease Community Assistance Panel

Interested in learning more about ATSDR activities at the Pease International Tradeport Site? Join us for the next CAP meeting.  Click here for more information about the Pease CAP 

Next CAP Meeting

The next Pease CAP Meeting will be held virtually on September 29, 2022.

Please click here for call in information.

February 2022 CAP transcript [PDF – 508 KB]

The below materials were developed during the enrollment phase of the Pease Study and used for community outreach.  Enrollment for the Pease Study ended December 2021.  Some of the products and materials listed are provided for historical context and are no longer being updated.

Click here for Archived Materials.

Pease Study FAQs

The Pease Study is the first site of the national Multi-site Study (MSS), which looks at health effects experienced by ten communities exposed to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)  contaminated drinking water across the U.S. The MSS aims to expand the scientific understanding of drinking water exposure to PFAS and health effects and help address concerns about past exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are evaluating the public health impact of drinking water contaminated with PFAS at the Pease International Tradeport and nearby wells in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire area. CDC and ATSDR want to understand more about how PFAS exposure affects human health.

The study is referred to as “The Pease Study” because it looks at the exposure to PFAS-contaminated drinking water that took place on the Pease International Tradeport from the opening of the Tradeport in the early 1990s through May 2014. In April and May 2014, tests found PFAS in drinking water from Pease International Tradeport’s public water system.[1]

[1] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/activities/pease/community-fact-sheet.html

In May 2014, drinking water wells that supply the Pease International Tradeport were sampled. The Haven Well, one of three wells that serves the Tradeport and the New Hampshire Air National Guard Base at Pease, showed elevated levels of the unregulated contaminant perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). How long PFOS may have been present in this well is not clear. Because the level of PFOS exceeded the “provisional health advisory” set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the well was shut down by the City of Portsmouth on May 12, 2014, and since that time has been physically disconnected from the system.  Based on information ATSDR has reviewed, drinking water on the Tradeport currently meets all federal and state guidelines for PFAS in drinking water.

ATSDR recommends that community members become familiar with water quality reports that can be found on the City of Portsmouth’s website.

The Pease Study will help us learn if PFAS exposure may lead to:

  • Higher cholesterol levels
  • Lower vaccine response in children
  • Specific diseases related to changes in liver, thyroid, or kidney function
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure (or pre-eclampsia) in pregnant women
  • Greater risk of ulcerative colitis
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children

The Pease Study’s findings will:

  • Provide a better scientific understanding about the relationships between PFAS exposure and certain health outcomes and help people understand their risk for health effects.
  • Empower communities and governmental agencies to make better decisions about how to protect public health.
  • Be applied to other communities across the nation. [2]
  • Provide study participants with their individual PFAS blood levels and clinical results. Study results can be shared with their doctors to monitor their future health. [3]

[2] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/activities/studies.html

[3] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/resources/clinical-guidance.html

The size of the Pease Study is not large enough for CDC and ATSDR to effectively evaluate the relationship between PFAS exposure and cancer. Although studying cancer is not part of the Pease Study, CDC and ATSDR understand that addressing cancer is a major concern for some community members. We will continue to explore possibilities for evaluating associations between PFAS exposure and cancer, including conducting an analysis using previously collected data.

Participant enrollment in the Pease Study concluded in December 2021. All specimen and data collection has ended. CDC and ATSDR are now processing and analyzing blood samples. Participants who provided a blood sample for the study will receive a letter in the mail with their PFAS blood level results. These results indicate the levels of PFAS found in the blood sample.  Some participants may have already received these results. Participants will also receive their clinical test results in a separate letter. These results include information on the health indicators (such as cholesterol level) found in the bloodwork.

Laboratory processing time is taking longer than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC and ATSDR will mail results once samples are analyzed. Based on current information, CDC and ATSDR estimate clinical results will be mailed by summer 2022. Remaining PFAS results may take longer.

Test results will be mailed to participants at the address they provided. If you recently moved or changed your mailing address, please let us know by contacting PeaseStudy@cdc.gov.

CDC and ATSDR will update the Pease Study website with information as it becomes available.  CDC and ATSDR will also inform the community when the Pease Study findings and recommendations are released in a final report and will hold a community meeting.  If you would like to sign up for the PFAS Progress newsletter to receive updates from CDC and ATSDR on their ongoing PFAS work, you can subscribe here.

Test results show how much of each PFAS is in your blood at the time your blood was drawn, but it is unclear what the results mean in terms of possible health effects. Most people in the U.S. have measurable amounts of PFAS in their body and many health issues associated with PFAS can be caused by multiple factors.   PFAS test results are not able to provide information to pinpoint a health problem or treatment, nor predict if your exposure to PFAS has caused or will cause health problems.

We recommend you discuss any health concerns or symptoms with your health care provider. Share the results of your PFAS test with your health care provider and make them aware of ATSDR resources for clinicians: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/resources/info-for-health-professionals.html. Follow the advice of your health care provider, including recommendations for checkups, vaccinations, and health screening tests.

For additional information, your regional Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU), can provide expert guidance for your family and your health care provider regarding concerns about environmental exposures, including PFAS.

Enrollment and specimen collection for the Pease Study has ended. Blood testing for PFAS is not a routine test offered by most doctors or health departments. If you would like to have your or your children’s blood tested, talk to your health care provider.

Contact Us

For general information about PFAS or the Pease Study call, 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

For general questions about the Pease Study, email PeaseStudy@cdc.gov.

Page last reviewed: August 24, 2022