One of the Health Department's responsibilities is to protect the health of Vermonters by making recommendations to the Department of Environmental Conservation regarding chemicals in drinking water.
In 2016, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service submitted an application to use TFM, a lampricide, in the LaPlatte River. TFM is used to control the population of sea lamprey, a parasitic fish that impacts the health of Lake Champlain’s fisheries. Because the mouth of the LaPlatte River is near an intake for the Champlain Water District, which provides drinking water to 70,000 people, the Health Department began looking into establishing a drinking water level for TFM.
Before 2017, there was little science on how TFM can affect our bodies. To protect public health, the Health Department recommended that no one drink the water if any TFM was present, which was the lowest level detected or 3 ppb (parts per billion).
In 2017, the Health Department began working with State partners and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to design a study to answer questions about how TFM in drinking water could affect public health. The study was published in 2019. This study helps understand how TFM can affect our bodies. It also led to the current drinking water health advisory level of 100 ppb for TFM.