"It's the unknown": Mom talks health concerns over contaminated water

TOWN OF PESHTIGO, Wis. (WBAY) -- People in Marinette County say there are still more questions than answers as the investigation continues into contaminated drinking water.

As we first reported last week, Tyco Fire Protection Products has been testing private wells in the Town of Peshtigo after a compound contained in fire-fighting foam made its way into nearby ground water.

At a public meeting Tuesday, Tyco upped the number of contaminated private wells from 8 to 9 because they sampled above federal limits for the contaminants.

One of those affected families talked to Action 2 News Tuesday night, saying their biggest concern is health.

Ever since Janell Goldsmith’s family found out their private drinking well in the Town of Peshtigo tested well above the federal health risk advisory for contaminants, the mom-of-two said it’s been an endless battle with the unknown.

”How has this already affected us? If it's affected us, what does the future hold?” said Goldsmith.

At a meeting last week, a senior toxicologist with Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services handed out a list of potential health effects to all attendees. However, he also reminded people that these compounds found in the wells are also found in everyday products like fast food wrappers and Scotchgard.

“These chemicals are in many products, and we have many sources of exposure to these chemicals,” said Robert Thiboldeaux, Ph.D.

But Goldsmith said as she scanned the list of symptoms, it was hard for her to ignore the ones she’s personally experienced.

“Hypertension or high blood pressure during pregnancy and low birth rate, well I did experience that with my last child,” said Goldsmith. “Never been diagnosed with high blood pressure or anything, and once the pregnancy was done it went away.”

Another potential health effect listed is increased risk of cancer.

“My husband was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor several years ago already and it was removed,” said Goldsmith

In some studies, it’s also affected the growth, learning and behavior of infants and older children. Goldsmith said both of her boys, ages 12 and 9, are in speech therapy.

Here’s the complete list offered to people at the meeting:
• Affect growth, learning and behavior of infants and other children
• Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
• Interfere with the body’s natural hormones
• Increase cholesterol levels
• Affect the immune system
• Increase the risk of cancer

Goldsmith said there’s no evidence to prove the contaminated water coming out of her faucet at home directly impacted her family’s health, but she said it’s hard not to wonder.

“I don’t want to point fingers or blame, I know it wasn’t deliberate,” said Goldsmith. “It’s the unknown and I don't know if I will ever have an answer.”

Anyone with questions about their health is encouraged to talk to their doctor.

Tyco said they are still in the investigating phase and will continue to test and monitor private wells. In the meantime, they have provided bottled water to all families impacted.

If you’ve been impacted and would like to tell us your story, email Brittany Schmidt at blschmidt@wbay.com.

If you are looking for more information about the water contamination, here are a few of the websites provided to people.

Tyco Fire Products website for this matter:

Bureau for Remediation and Redevelopment Tracking System (BRRTS) on the web:

United States Environmental Protection Agency:

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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