Rotary Log for October 31, 2019
Portsmouth Rotary Log—Environmental Disaster Edition.  Today we learned some sobering facts about Portsmouth’s water supply as admirably conveyed to us by our guest speaker, Andrea Amico.  Before that discussion, the preliminaries.  President Leo presided.  Past-President Cleo made an appearance.  So did Past-President Butch Ricci.  And how long has it been since Butch made an appearance?  Let’s just say he gave his $20 bill to pay for the meal and waited for his change.  To his dismay, no change was forthcoming!  Butch, you can remove your red dot now—yeah, it’s a Rotary thing these days.
The words of America the Beautiful thundered through our banquet setting followed by a novel, lyrical invocation by Josiah Babcock.  The club warmly welcomed back Mort Schmidt who had to deal with significant health issues in his absence.  He informed us he was the first patient at Portsmouth Regional Hospital to receive treatment for an aneurism with a newly-introduced surgical technique. Mort, our well wishes have always been with you.  Welcome back! 
Guests and visiting Rotarians next were introduced.  If you were there, you know who they were--maybe.  Yours truly does not know because nobody provided the guest sign-in sheet.  Leo?
The monthly birthday list was up next.  Walter Liff, Joe Cunningham, Rich Ryzman, Deborah Rourke, Betsy Scott and Madeline Warren are on it for October. So are Paris Khavari, Bill Mortimer and Deb Grabowski. Happy Birthday to all! 
 Rotarians celebrating anniversaries as club members, with Leo St. Martin leading the way (48 years of service), include Steve Wood (43), Jon Flagg (29-slouch!) and Deb Anthony (3). Also recognized were Dick Seery (36), Rich Ryzman (5), Charlie Bourdages (23), Keith Eveland (38), Deborah Rourke (12), Justin Gamester (16), James Petersen (16) and David Holden (35). But wait—there’s more! Judy Loto (2), Stan Cross (25), Tom Decker (43) and Ramona Dow (17) are on the list, too, for a total of 391 years of service!
Two new members joined today.  Kaitlin Burke introduced Gina Fulginito.  Gina was born and raised in Miami and lived 11 years in New York City. She has been in Portsmouth for a year and lives downtown with her husband, William O’Malley. Gina has donated her time to Cross Roads House and looks forward to further her charitable acts with our club.
Ian Onla introduced Don Chick.  Don grew up in Rochester and has taught photography in 27 states and the Caribbean. He currently owns a photography business and informed us his grandfather was the 34thpresident of our club way back in ’56-’57.  Welcome Gina and Don to our club!     
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Nancy Notis reminded us about basic etiquette when it comes to cell phone use.  As we are each the face of Rotary, it is expected that we will all put our phones away and not be caught looking at them.  This is especially important during this election season. That’s a time when people from all parts of the country including individuals running for public office attend our meetings.  It is simply a matter of basic courtesy to speakers and our guests. Your compliance is much appreciated.
Up next, Justin Finn began general announcements with a reminder to sign up for the Christmas tree sale at the back of the room. That’s especially true if you wish to stay on the good list.  Betsy Scott reminded us about our Rotary Thanksgiving event and requested that we put up posters to advertise it.  Ann informed us about sign-up sheets on our tables for anyone that wishes to help with the Thanksgiving dinner.  Any help will be appreciated.  Marie Brownell asked for assistance with the 2020 golf tournament.  Lastly, Joanie Dickinson thanked Jean Dougherty, Cleo and others for turning in beverage can tops.
Rich Wallace won the 50/50 raffle for $65 AND won the match!  The rest of us can compete for scraps next week.
On to the main event.  Sara Treacy introduced Andrea Amica, one of the founding members of Testing for Pease. Testing is an organization that advocates blood tests for individuals who may have been exposed to toxic environmental contaminants at Pease International Tradeport. These contaminants are known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances.)
 PFAS’s are a subset of a much larger group of manmade chemical compounds. These compounds exhibit both hydrophobic and oleophobic characteristics (water repellent and oil repellent).  The chemical is a key ingredient in fire-suppression foams and has been used in such foams since at least 1970.  It was used on Pease AFB from 1970 until the base’s closure in 1990.  Unfortunately, the chemical does not break down easily in the environment and is subject to bioaccumulation. It is not metabolized by the human body and accumulates in the tissues due to a very long half-life.
There are no long-term studies about the impact of this family of chemicals on human health. But short-term studies have linked the chemicals to several conditions such as various types of cancers. These afflictions include immune system suppression, elevated cholesterol, kidney malfunction and disease to name a few.  Perhaps most ominously, the chemical can pass the placental barrier into growing fetuses.  Indeed, adverse health effects may prove to be generational, irrespective of personal exposure.
As a mother and wife, Andrea became aware of the chemical and its status as a water contaminant. She knew it was in the three wells that supply water to the Pease community.  To her horror, she learned about the contamination through a newspaper article in 2014.  At the time, her husband had worked on Pease for several years and her two young children attended daycare there as well.
In 2015, she joined forces with two other mothers to form Testing for Pease. Through this grassroots organization, Andrea and company have advocated for blood testing. They seek remediation and elimination of PFAS’s and other related chemical compounds from our drinking water sources.  To date, two of the three functioning wells on Pease have filtering systems in place to remove the chemical.  The current readings have shown a demonstrable reduction of the chemical.  
The organization has received support and funding from local, state and federal governments.  A $20 million federal grant spearheaded by Senator Shaheen is being used to conduct a long-term study via blood testing.  The U.S. Air Force has undertaken significant remediation efforts for all three wells as a direct result of Andrea’s advocacy. 
Testing for Pease continues its advocacy mission. It has coordinated with the CDC, NHDHHS and others to seek lower contamination standards as well as testing on a national level. The prevalence of PFAS’s in the environment remains large on a national and even a global scal. This is due to the pervasive use of the chemical in many consumer products and industries.
Thus, as we pondered our own personal exposures to these toxic chemical brews, it was time to leave. We concluded with a solemn rendition of the 4-Way Test as a collective commitment to better days ahead.  
Until next time. . .. 
Respectfully submitted, Mark Lorusso