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Jul 17, 2019 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Approves Health Standard For PFOS And PFOA Compounds

The Hampton Bays Water District's carbon filtration system. PRESS FILE
Jul 17, 2019 11:21 AM

The State Department of Health has significantly lowered the maximum contaminant levels for emerging chemicals PFOS and PFOA, which in recent years have plagued many East End communities, including Wainscott, Sagaponack, Hampton Bays, East Quogue and Westhampton.

According to a press release from State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the state’s allowable levels have dropped below the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion, or ppt, to just 10 ppt for both PFOS and PFOA.

“The federal government didn’t have a standard—it had a health advisory level,” Mr. Thiele said. “It was also rather high.”

Additionally, State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker approved a maximum contaminant level of 1 part per billion, or ppb, for 1,4-dioxane—a colorless liquid, commonly referred to as dioxane, that is associated with industrial greasers, laundry detergent and common household items like soap.

The dioxane limit is the nation’s first level set for that contaminant, according to the press release. The revised contaminant levels were recommended to Mr. Zucker in 2018, following the establishment of the state’s Drinking Water Quality Council, Mr. Thiele said.

However, no action had been taken by the commissioner. To push things along, Mr. Thiele wrote a letter to Mr. Zucker in November 2018, in which he stressed the prevalence of the emerging compounds.

“All over the state, the emergence of these contaminants in our drinking water supply and their harmful effects are becoming an increasingly unacceptable reality,” the assemblyman wrote in the letter, adding that the contaminants have been linked to several potentially life-threatening conditions, such as cancer.

In June 2019, he again urged the commissioner—this time with success.

“There was a long period, a long wait, between the recommendations being made and getting to the rule-making,” Mr. Thiele said. “We’ve been waiting for a while.”

However, he stressed that the fiscal implications of the council’s recommendations played a large role in the delay, adding that with the 10 ppt limit for PFOA and PFOS, a large number of water suppliers are going to be required to install carbon filtration systems.

Mr. Thiele said that in recent years the state has invested millions of dollars through the State Superfund program to install granular-activated carbon filtration systems.

The Hampton Bays Water District—which detected elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA in its drinking water in 2017—recently installed a carbon filtration system at its well field along Ponquogue Avenue. According to subsequent water testing reports, the system has been successful in removing the chemicals from the district’s drinking water.

“There’s clearly going to be a fiscal impact to water suppliers meeting these new standards,” Mr. Thiele said, adding that the new regulations should go into effect by the end of the year.

He said it’s currently unclear, once these standards are in place, how long local water suppliers will have to meet them, or what the consequences would be for exceeding them. “That’s the one thing that isn’t clear right now,” he said.

Under the new regulations, public water suppliers will be required to test and monitor their water supply quarterly as opposed to annually as required by the Suffolk County Department of Health.

“I am pleased that the state has made it a priority to address these threats to our public health and environment,” Mr. Thiele said. “We must all work together to protect safe drinking water—our most valuable resource.”

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The Hampton Bays Water District do not have the resources to assure the safety of our water supply. We need the professionals at SCWA to take control, upgrade our system, and plan for our future.
By Bayman (55), Hampton Bays on Jul 18, 19 10:21 AM
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