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Clean-Water Advocates Urge Tight Chemical Standards

It has been more than three years since PFOA was found in drinking water in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Doug Kerr (CC BY-SA 2.0)/flickr)
It has been more than three years since PFOA was found in drinking water in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Doug Kerr (CC BY-SA 2.0)/flickr)
December 18, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. — Environmental groups are calling for New York State to establish very low permissible levels of some hazardous chemicals in drinking water. The state's Drinking Water Quality Council is holding meetings this afternoon in Albany, New York City and on Long Island.

The council is expected to make recommendations for Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs, for three chemicals used in manufacturing: PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-dioxane. Rob Hayes, clean water associate for Environmental Advocates of New York, said it's been more than three years since PFOA was found in drinking water in the town of Hoosick Falls.

"The council promised that it would do the right thing by these residents,” Hayes said. “The council now needs to follow through by setting an MCL for PFOA and PFOS at 4 parts per trillion, and for 1,4-dioxane at 0.3 parts per billion."

In 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency recommended setting maximum levels for PFOA and PFOS at 70 parts-per-trillion, but a report from the Department of Health and Human Services released in June recommended levels seven to 10 times lower than the EPA figures.

Hayes noted that all three of these industrial chemicals are associated with serious cancer risks.

"For PFOA and PFOS, it could be kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and there are more,” he said. “1,4-dioxane is considered a likely human carcinogen by the EPA."

This is the fifth time the council has met since it was convened more than a year ago.

Hayes said under the Trump administration, the federal EPA has been very slow to act and cannot be relied on to take the steps necessary to protect drinking water.

"The council, the Department of Health, and ultimately Gov. Cuomo need to step up and say that in the lack of federal leadership on this issue, the state will take action and put in place the strongest drinking-water protections in the nation,” He said.

More information is available at health.ny.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY