Stand Up for Safe Drinking Water in New York State

Get harmful chemical contaminants out of New York State's drinking water.

Time is running out to tell New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker that our drinking water should be free from PFOA and PFOS—two toxic chemicals in the PFAS group that have been found in drinking water sources from Long Island to Upstate New York.

PFOA and PFOS are linked with many serious health effects—cancer, hormone disruption, liver and kidney damage, developmental and reproductive harm, changes in serum lipid levels, and immune system toxicity—some of which occur at extremely low levels of exposure.  

Unfortunately, PFOA and PFOS are ubiquitous—since the 1940s, PFOA and PFOS have been widely used in industrial settings and consumer products like in firefighting foam, nonstick cookware (e.g., Teflon), stain-resistant carpets and fabric (e.g., Scotchgard and Stainmaster), paper and cardboard food packaging (e.g., fast food wrappers), textiles (e.g., Gore-Tex), toothpaste, shampoos, cosmetics, polishes and waxes…the list goes on.  PFOA and PFOS were so widely used that one or both of the chemicals is present in 99 percent of all people across the planet.

New York is especially hard-hit by PFOA and PFOS contamination—Elevated levels of PFOA and PFOS have been found in drinking water supplies across the state, including in Hoosick Falls, New Windsor, Fort Drum, Hempstead, Petersburgh, Newburgh, Hampton Bays, Cambridge, and Yaphank. 

Thankfully, New York State has proposed regulations that would lower the concentrations of these dangerous chemicals in our drinking water.  If adopted, New York State’s proposal would be the toughest standard in the nation. 

But their proposed regulations, while much better than the alternative, still leave room for the presence of PFOA and PFOS in our drinking water—leaving us vulnerable to long-term health problems.  The science is there—we should limit concentrations of PFOA and PFOS at the lowest level we can detect these contaminants—two parts per trillion. 

Moreover, the proposed regulations set separate standards for PFOA and PFOS—when in reality, the concentration of these dangerous chemicals should be measured together.  It is the combined concentration of PFOA and PFOS that is most relevant to predicting the effects of these contaminants on our health.

We welcome Governor Cuomo’s encouraging statements on the issue.  But now is the time for the Cuomo administration to take action—to lower the maximum permissible concentrations of the contaminants to two parts per trillion and set one single standard for both chemicals.

The public has until September 23, 2019 to ask New York to keep PFOA and PFOS out of their drinking water. 

Click here to write to Commissioner Zucker and stand up for safe drinking water in New York State.

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