The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), together with the County Health Officials of New York (NYSACHO) and the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors, is urging the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NYS Department of Health (DoH) to set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFAO and PFOS, chemicals which have been found in drinking water supplies and pose serious public health threats.

Exposure to 1-4 Dioxane, PFOA, and PFOS has been linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pre-eclampsia, thyroid disease, developmental defects in fetuses, liver tissue damage, and immune system impairments, among other potentially life-threatening conditions. Additionally, a report recently released by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) finds that human health risks may occur when chemical levels are significantly lower than the current federal recommendations.

ATSDR’s report recommends setting a MCL to protect the 16 million Americans in 33 states whose drinking water systems are contaminated by PFAS. New York State has an obligation to provide for the health and welfare of its own residents by setting a state MCL that limits exposure to these dangerous chemicals.

The county groups recognize the significant efforts by New York State to address the dangers associated with these chemicals in our landfills, drinking water, surface water and environment. Establishing an enforceable MCL is the logical next step for New York to take, as the federal government is not likely to establish a MCL in the near future.

“As long as the federal government doesn’t act on this urgent public health issue, New York State has the authority and responsibility to act. It can set a maximum contaminant level,” said Stephen Acquario, NYSAC Executive Director. “Since these levels aren’t currently set, county governments responsible for water quality aren’t testing for these chemicals. Action is needed now to preserve and protect the water quality in our state.”

NYSACHO and NYSAC sent letters calling for the establishment of an MCL for 1-4 Dioxane, PFOA, and PFOS to the US EPA Office of Water and the NYS DOH/ Drinking Water Quality Council. The letters were also signed by the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors.

On September 26th at 2:30pm, the US Senate Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management will hold a hearing entitled “The Federal Role in the Toxic PFAs Chemical Crisis.”

To learn more about this issue and the county impact, view NYSAC’s reports and resources at http://www.nysac.org/health.