Press Releases


Entries in Public Health (107)


NH DHHS Releases Timeline for Remainder of Pease Testing Program

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS) has announced the timeline for releasing test results to individuals

who participated in the second round of the Pease Tradeport

perfluorochemicals (PFCs) testing program. In May 2014, perfluorooctane

sulfonic acid (PFOS) was discovered in one of the wells that serves the

Tradeport at levels above the provisional advisory level for drinking water

set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Because of concerns about

exposure to PFCs, DHHS offered PFC blood testing to anyone who worked or

attended child care on the Tradeport and consumed contaminated water. A

total of 1,575 individuals provided blood samples during the first and

second rounds of the testing program, which occurred from April to October

of 2015.

During the second round of sampling, which occurred from August to October

2015, 1,104 individuals provided blood samples for PFC testing. DHHS is

determined to conclude testing and reporting of individual results to all

participants by April 2016 and is therefore working with two labs in

addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to

expedite the testing process.

“This has been a long and complicated process and I know individuals

anxiously await the results of their blood tests,” said DHHS Commissioner

Nick Toumpas. “I wish to thank the participants for their tremendous

patience. These are uncharted waters and I commend DHHS staff, the

Community Advisory Board, Portsmouth Regional Hospital, and our partners at

the state, federal, and local level for their many contributions to the

testing of the Pease community.”

The CDC lab, which conducted testing and analysis for all 471 samples in

round one of testing, is also testing the first 300 blood samples drawn

during round two. DHHS anticipates beginning to mail individual results

reports to participants in January 2016, once DHHS has received the results

of the first batch of testing from the CDC laboratory.

Due to the volume of samples received during this second round of testing,

however, no single laboratory was capable of testing all of the samples in

a timely manner. Therefore, DHHS has finalized an agreement with AXYS

Analytical laboratory to test 700 blood samples. DHHS began sending samples

to AXYS in batches in early December. DHHS will be mailing results from

AXYS to individuals as blood samples are tested and reported to DHHS in

batches. DHHS anticipates beginning to receive results from AXYS in January

with all test results from AXYS mailed to participants by the end of March


Additionally, DHHS just finalized an agreement with the Public Health

Institute on behalf of the State of California to test the remaining

approximately 100 samples, with results to be mailed to individuals by

April 2016. Once all the results from the second round of testing are

completed and mailed, DHHS will prepare a final analysis and report on the

entire testing program for tentative release in May, followed by a public

meeting to discuss the testing program as a whole with members of the


For individuals who missed the DHHS PFC blood testing program but would

still like to know their blood PFC levels, DHHS has identified two

laboratories that offer testing to individuals through their primary care

providers. Information about their testing process, panel of PFCs tested,

and pricing can be obtained by calling the numbers listed below and/or

visiting their website:

· Vista Analytical Laboratory (phone: 916-673-1520, website: offers testing for a panel of PFCs,

including PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, and PFNA.

· NMS Laboratory (phone: 866-522-2206, website:

): offers testing for PFOA.

The Pease Tradeport previously operated as an Air Force base from 1956 to

1991. It is suspected that firefighting foam used by the Air Force starting

around 1970 for plane crashes and training exercises contained PFCs that

leached into the ground and consequently contaminated the well.

PFCs have been used for decades in many commercial and home products, such

as stain-resistant carpeting, fire-fighting foam, nonstick cookware, fabric

coatings, and some food packaging. As a result, they are found throughout

the environment and in people’s bodies. They do not break down easily in

the environment and can remain in our bodies for extended periods of time,

so PFCs can be detected in the blood of most people. Studies evaluating

health effects of PFCs have been inconsistent and sometimes contradictory.

Because of this, it is unclear what health effects might occur from finding

PFCs in a person’s blood.

For more information on the Pease water situation and the testing program,

visit For more

information about monitoring of the water by the NH Department of

Environmental Services, go to


NH DHHS - Diabetes Prevention 

DHHS Collaborates to Launch Five More National Diabetes Prevention Program

Sites in New Hampshire

Concord, NH – New Hampshire residents at high risk for type 2 diabetes now

have more resources to prevent the condition. There are seven organizations

in New Hampshire committed to offering the National Diabetes Prevention

Program (NDPP), with five new organizations coming on board in the past few

months. The program helps participants reduce their risk for type 2

diabetes by learning to eat healthier, lose weight, become more physically

active, and manage stress.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division

of Public Health Services (DPHS) recently hosted a training for 18 new

Lifestyle Coaches who will offer NDPP throughout the State. Additionally,

DPHS, in collaboration with the Community Health Institute and the Diabetes

Prevention Advisory Group, has launched a new website— — to link people to programs in their communities.

“Since the risk of type 2 diabetes increases as we get older and New

Hampshire’s population is aging, we can expect that the number of people in

the Granite State with diabetes could increase rapidly in the coming

years,” said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director of Public Health at DHHS.

“The NDPP helps individuals with prediabetes prevent or delay the

development of type 2 diabetes. Changing behaviors can be difficult, but

support such as this program provides, can be vital to improving health.”

Prediabetes is defined as having a blood glucose (sugar) level that is

higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. A

person with prediabetes is at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes,

which can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, and


You are more likely to develop prediabetes or type 2 diabetes if you:

· Are 45 years of age or older

· Are Overweight or obese

· Get little or no physical activity

· Have someone in your family that has type 2 diabetes

· Have high blood pressure or take medication for high blood pressure

· Had gestational diabetes or delivered a baby weighing more than 9


· Have an African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian

American, or Pacific Islander racial or ethnic background

In the United States, more than one in three adults have prediabetes.

However, only 11% of those with prediabetes know they have the condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that without

intervention, 15 to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2

diabetes within five years.

For more information and/or to locate a program near you, please visit:


NH DHHS - Holiday Food Safety 

Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Concord, NH – As we enter the busy holiday season, the Department of Health

and Human Services’ (DHHS) Food Protection Section is promoting important

food safety practices by encouraging residents to follow some simple tips

to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and


“Don’t let germs ruin your holiday activities by not taking proper

precautions against foodborne disease,” said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting

Director of the Division of Public Health Services at DHHS. “There are

simple tips for safe food preparation that we should all be following every

day, not just at holidays. Sometimes at large family gatherings our

attention may not be focused as closely on safe food handling and this can

present an opportunity for bacteria to be introduced.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there

are 31 pathogens known to cause foodborne illness. Every year there are an

estimated 48 million cases of illness, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000

deaths in the United States due to foodborne diseases. Symptoms can vary

depending on the illness, but some common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal

cramps, and nausea. It is difficult to say with certainty which microbe is

causing a given illness without laboratory testing.

The following simple precautions should always be followed by cooks and

food service workers to reduce the possibility of anyone becoming sick:

Separate: Use a separate cutting board for cooked foods and raw foods

and always wash them after use. Do not cut raw vegetables on the same

cutting board as raw meat. Avoid cross contamination. Wash any

utensil after preparing one food item before going on to the next


Clean: Always wash hands before touching any food. Wash hands and

surfaces often during food preparation and afterward.

Cook: Make sure all meats are thoroughly cooked by using a meat

thermometer: turkey, stuffing, and casseroles to 165ºF; veal, beef,

and lamb roasts to 145ºF; and ham, pork, ground beef, and egg dishes

to 160ºF. When reheating, leftovers should be thoroughly heated to


Chill: Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours. The

refrigerator should be maintained at 40ºF or lower and the freezer

should be at 0ºF or lower. Keep hot foods hot, 140ºF or hotter, and

cold foods cold, 40ºF or below. Never defrost food at room

temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, in a cold-water bath, or

in the microwave. When using a microwave, meat must be cooked

immediately after. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.

Report: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to the NH Department of

Health and Human Services by calling 603-271-4496. Often calls from

concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public

health official calls you to talk about an outbreak your cooperation

is important, even if you are not ill.

For more information, visit ,, , or To report a foodborne outbreak, call the DHHS

Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496.


NH DHHS - Great American Smoke Out Campaign 

NH DHHS Launches Tips from Former SmokersMedia Campaign

in Support of the Great American Smoke Out on November 19th

Concord, NH – In celebration of the 38th Great American Smoke Out (GASO),

the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is

launching Tips From Former Smokers, a national education campaign created

by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage

smokers to quit. DHHS is launching the ads in November to recognize the

importance of GASO. This event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society,

encourages tobacco users to quit for at least one day in the hope that this

might challenge them to stop permanently. The multi-media Tips campaign

will run statewide through March of 2016.

“This is a very powerful campaign; the people in the ads are real and they

have suffered from using tobacco,” said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director

of the Division of Public Health Services. “Quitting is very difficult and

the individuals in the Tipsads know that firsthand, but they were able to

quit and they want to help others quit too. The Great American Smoke Out is

an opportunity to begin a journey towards a healthier, tobacco-free life.”

New Hampshire will be featuring Tips participants Amanda, who’s baby was

born 2 months early and weighed only 3 pounds; Jessica, a mother with a

young son who suffers from asthma attacks due to secondhand smoke exposure;

and Bill, who had diabetes at 15 and started smoking cigarettes at 39 but

quit after his leg was amputated due to poor circulation. Their stories,

the stories of other former smoker, and tips for quitting can be found at:

Currently, 17.5% of New Hampshire adults report smoking but almost 65%

report wanting to quit. DHHS helps residents quit tobacco and provides them

with cessation resources, including free counseling to all residents who

call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or self-refer via the web ( ). The

Helpline provides no-cost counseling and encouragement for quitting tobacco

use to all New Hampshire residents. Nicotine patches are available for

those who qualify, while supplies last.

For more information about the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human

Services visit . For information about the Great American

Smoke Out visit .

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NH DHHS - Tobacco Data Report 

Department of Health and Human Services Release Tobacco Data Report for

National Stroke Awareness Day

Concord, NH – The NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has

released a new report, Tobacco Use in New Hampshire: Prevalence, Health

Consequences, and Strategies to Reduce Use, 2015 Report, which presents

data and trends on tobacco use among youth and adults in New Hampshire over

the past 20 years. It also highlights mortality from smoking-related

diseases, evidence-based strategies for reducing tobacco use, and the

status of these strategies in New Hampshire.

The DHHS is releasing the report on October 28th, National Stroke Awareness

Day, to highlight the connection between smoking tobacco products and

stroke. A stroke is a sudden death of brain cells caused by blood clots or

bleeding. Smoking is one cause of dangerous plaque buildup inside of

arteries; plaque can rupture and cause clots and block arteries.

“About 10% of strokes are caused by smoking,” said Marcella Bobinsky,

Acting Director of Public Health at DHHS. “Even breathing secondhand smoke

can cause clots in non-smokers. However, two to five years after quitting

smoking, a person’s risk of a stroke could fall to about the same as a

nonsmoker’s. The Department supports every attempt to quit tobacco use and

offers assistance in the form of the NH Tobacco Helpline.”

Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in both the United States and in

New Hampshire. It is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

In New Hampshire, 437 people died of stroke in 2013. There are things that

one can do to help lower their risk of having a stroke. These include:

eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and salt and high in fruits and

vegetables; maintaining a healthy weight; quitting tobacco and limiting

alcohol; and having one’s blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

It is important to know the warning signs of stroke and the need to call

911 if one thinks they or someone they know is having a stroke. Getting

immediate treatment can help prevent death and reduce disability. The

American Stroke Association uses the Acronym “F.A.S.T” to teach the stroke

warning signs in an easy way. Learn the F.A.S.T. acronym (FACE drooping,

ARM weakness, SPEECH difficulty, TIME to call 911), and share this

information with others you know. A free App for “F.A.S.T” is available for

download at the App Store or Google Play. If you are unsure if you or

someone else is having a stroke, you should ALWAYS call 911.

The tobacco report details the addiction cycle of nicotine, tobacco use’s

impact on public health, and strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco use

in New Hampshire. The report is available at:

For more information about heart disease and stroke, see the New Hampshire

Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Action Plan 2015-2020 at

DHHS currently offers free help quitting tobacco use through 1-800-QUIT-NOW


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