ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — What’s in your water? The Department of Health is proposing new regulations for 23 PFAS chemicals. Capitol Correspondent Amal Tlaige spoke with clean water advocates who say, the proposed regulations don’t cut it.
“Unfortunately they proposed levels that were way too high to adequately protect public health and yet under the Department’s proposal there’s at least 500,000 New Yorkers all across the state who would continue ingesting these chemicals in their drinking water when they turn on the tap. That is unacceptable, it has to change. Governor Hochul has to step in,” said Robert Hayes, Director of Clean Water at Environmental Advocates NY.
PFAS is a family of chemicals which can be found in non-stick cookware, fabric waterproofing, suppression foam, food packaging and more. These chemicals break down in the environment and can contaminate our drinking water leading to liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility and cancer. The proposed regulations would set a maximum contaminant level for four additional PFAS chemicals to be 10 parts per trillion, but the EPA has confirmed that there is no safe level of exposure.
Hayes pointed to other states where the drinking water has lower MCL levels like Massachusetts and said, the state can eliminate all contaminants if they want to, “The Department of Health is focused on the short term costs that come from implementing these standards. There is a lot of funding available to help water utilities install this treatment technology so they don’t have to pass costs on to customers and we know that getting PFAS chemicals out of the water now will have huge benefits down the line.”
The proposed regulations also include a notification level be sent to the public when contaminants reach a specific level. “It’s designed to ensure that the public is informed about what’s in their drinking water. These are also far too high. For a group of PFAS it’s set at 100 ppt and so the public isn’t going to be notified unless a combination of PFAS shows up at 100 ppt. Much much higher than the recommended level of zero parts for trillion for exposure,” said Liz Moran, Policy Advocate at Earthjustice.
Starting October 5, there is a 60-day public review and comment period for the proposed regulations.