Photo courtesy of Rich Beauchesne/Seacoast Online

It is with great pleasure that I announce the Governor has signed Senate Bill 309 today. This bill is a significant step forward to protect public health in towns like Merrimack, Amherst, Litchfield, Portsmouth, Greenland, Hampton, North Hampton, and Rye.

This bill is similar to my bill HB485, which I submitted during my freshman year, and to my companion bills HB1618 and HB1590 from the current legislative session. I wrote this bill and brought it to Republican Senator Innis to sponsor because I felt it would have a better chance of getting through in a Republican super-majority.

SB309 is very significant because of several reasons:

1- it compels the State Department of Environmental Services (DES) to reevaluate whether the current water standard of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for two perfluorinated chemicals is strict enough.

2- it compels the DES to come up with standards for two other PFAs chemicals that are detected in Merrimack, Portsmouth, and Greenland (PFHxS and PFNA).

3- it compels the DES to come up with a standard that protects our children before they are born and during critical developmental years, which is critical to preventing cancer in our children and lowering cancer rates in overall in the state.

Much of my legislative work is the product of my time in the Pediatric Cancer Task Force headed by Tom Sherman, my time heading the Subcommittee to investigate Coakley Landfill, and of the relationships I developed with Founder Bill Couzens, famed Attorney Rob Bilott and others through Less Cancer, a non-profit with a mission to prevent cancer. These relationships continue as we wage a broad defense against the industry and regulatory desire to supress important public health information.

Not only does the State of New Hampshire have the first in history CDC-defined double pediatric cancer cluster, but we also have the highest incidence rates of breast and bladder cancer in the country, and now the highest rates of pediatric cancer in the country according to the CDC, as reported by U.S. News and World Report last week.

Congressional Candidate #NH01 and Representative Mindi Messmer with Governor Chris Sununu at bill signing ceremony at Jenness Beach, Rye, NH. Photo courtesy of Rich Beauchesne/Seacoast Online

New Hampshire has to pass legislation to mandate that the DES lower exposures to environmental toxins so we can reverse the exceedingly high rates of cancer in our state. During legislative hearings, in response to questions by Mindi for Congress supporter Rep. Jackie Cilley, the DES admitted that they knew the arsenic drinking water standard was too lax and resulted in elevated bladder cancer rates but did not get around to making a tougher standard because they weren’t mandated by the legislature.

This is one thing NH does not want to excel at.

This is a national issue and I am proud to say that New Hampshire has made a big step today like New Jersey and Vermont in addressing this important drinking water contamination.

We must continue to monitor the progress so that our regulators act to prevent public toxin exposures and hold polluters responsible.

Getting one bill like this passed was no walk in the park. It was heavily fought by lobbysists, municipalities and regulators.

Our democracy is not for sale. I’m not taking any special interest or lobbyist money because I want the people to know I’m working for them.

Public Health Takes Step Forward in New Hampshire was originally published in Less Cancer Journal on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.