PORTSMOUTH — Andrea Amico, the Portsmouth activist and mother of three, is taking her efforts to help protect people from dangerous PFAS chemicals to Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., invited Amico to testify at the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee’s Sept. 26 hearing on “the Federal Role in the Toxic PFAS Chemical Crisis."

Amico received a call last Friday from Hassan’s office, asking her to testify at the hearing. “I was incredibly honored to be invited to go to Washington, D.C. and testify,” Amico said.

The hearing will be broken into two parts, Amico said. Representatives from government agencies will testify in the first part, and the second will focus on “impacted community members.”

“I hope to bring the community perspective of New Hampshire residents there, but also the perspective of advocates from across the country who I’ve gotten to know through my work on a national PFAS coalition,” Amico said.

She acknowledged she is “a bit nervous.” “I’ve never testified at a Senate hearing before but I’m much more excited for the opportunity and the ability to shine a national light on this ongoing problem,” Amico said.

Amico, co-founder of the community activist group Testing for Pease, has been an advocate for people to learn about the health impacts of PFAS exposure since May 2014, when the city shut down its Haven well at Pease International Tradeport after the Air Force found high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS.

The EPA in May 2016 set permanent health advisories for PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA at 70 parts per trillion. In addition to being a suspected carcinogen, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states PFAS exposure can harm childhood development, increase cholesterol levels, hurt the immune system and interfere with the human body’s hormones.

Two of Amico’s young children and her husband were exposed to the contaminated water at the tradeport.

Hassan called Amico “a steadfast advocate for her family and neighbors in the area who have been exposed to contamination in their drinking water from PFAS chemicals.”

“This hearing will serve as an important opportunity for members of Congress to hear directly from health and science experts, community leaders like Andrea, public safety officials, and others about what is truly needed to keep Granite Staters and Americans safe from the dangers of PFAS and to ensure that no one is forced to question the safety or quality of their drinking water,” Hassan said.

Amico hopes to make the case for urgency. “We need our government to take action now to help communities that are suffering,” she said. “And community members should not have to pay to clean up contamination and address health concerns.”

She also plans to speak about the need to set “much lower standards” than the 70 ppt standard for PFOS and PFOA, and treat PFAS contaminants as a “class of chemicals.”

Amico credited her family, friends and work for being “incredibly supportive of my efforts” to address the community’s PFAS concerns. “I could not do this work without their support because as you know I have three small children, I work full time, I take classes at night,” she said.

She is proud of the work of Testing for Pease, which she founded with Alayna Davis of Dover and Michelle Dalton of Durham.

“I hope that the work that we’ve done will inspire other community members to take action, and it is my hope that people will see it doesn’t take professionally trained advocates to make a significant difference in a community,” Amico said. “It just takes some passion, organization and persistence."

Amico is motivated to continue her work because she lives each day worried “about the long-term impact this contamination will have on my children.”

“It’s a fear that will never go away. I try to channel the fear of the unknown into meaningful work that will hopefully help shed some light on what my family could potentially face down the line, and to help prevent other people from being exposed to these chemicals.”