Today, advocates urged Governor Hochul and the NYS Department of Health (DOH) to bring New York’s drinking water standards on toxic PFAS in line with new EPA health advisories. They called for current standards on two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, and proposed standards on 23 additional PFAS to be lowered to as close to zero as possible. This would ensure that New Yorkers would be directly notified about what’s in their water, and that dangerous contamination would be eliminated.
New York’s Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS currently allow up to 10 parts per trillion (ppt) of each of these chemicals in drinking water. Those levels are 10 times higher than what EPA now says is safe.
Recently, the NYS Drinking Water Quality Council (DWQC) proposed new MCLs for 4 additional PFAS, also at 10 ppt each. In addition, the DWQC proposed Notification Levels (NLs) for 6 other PFAS at a combined 30 ppt and for 13 other PFAS at a combined 100 ppt. Advocates argue these proposals are too high to adequately protect public health given the similarities between those chemicals and PFOA and PFOS. MCLs require public notification and drinking water cleanup if exceeded; NLs only require public notification if exceeded.
According to a review of a selection of statewide testing data, at least hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have PFOA, PFOS, and/or other PFAS in their water, but at levels below the current or proposed standards. The list of approximately 20 identified water utilities can be found on pages 3-5 of a letter recently sent to the Governor and DOH by a broad coalition of close to 40 organizations. These utilities have not been and likely would not be required to clean up their water, leaving New Yorkers at increased risk of developing serious illnesses like kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and more when they turn on the tap.