NY adopts new drinking water standard for emerging contaminant 1,4-Dioxane

Posted 30 July 2020 at 1:18 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State has adopted a first-in-the-nation drinking water standard for emerging contaminant 1,4-Dioxane, setting the maximum contaminant level of 1 part per billion for 1,4-Dioxane.

The Governor also announced maximum contaminant levels for emerging contaminants PFOA and PFOS in New York’s drinking water, which are among the lowest in the U.S. for PFOA and PFOS at 10 parts per trillion. These announcements follow a public comment period and approval by the Public Health and Health Planning Council.

“While the federal government continues to leave emerging contaminants like 1,4-Dioxane, PFOA and PFOS unregulated, New York is leading the way by setting new national standards that help ensure drinking water quality and safeguard New Yorker’s health from these chemicals,” Cuomo said. “The environmental movement was founded in this great state and we will continue to move forward to protect our most precious resources for generations to come.”

The new regulations require public water systems in the state to regularly test and monitor for these chemicals, regardless of size. All three contaminants have been detected in drinking water systems across the country, yet remain unregulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for setting regulatory limits under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

In lieu of federal action and as part of the State’s commitment to ensuring clean drinking water for all New Yorkers, the Drinking Water Quality Council was established as part of the 2017-2018 Executive Budget to provide recommendations to the New York State Department of Health to address emerging contaminants in drinking water resulting from decades-old industrial pollution in communities statewide.

The Council’s scientific review of PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-Dioxane was part of its first directive to set standards for these man-made, emerging contaminants, which are persistent in the environment and have been detected in drinking water systems nationwide. The Council’s members, comprised of academic scientists, engineers, public water system professionals, and experts from the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, followed the available science regarding potential health impacts and technology available to remove these chemicals when recommending the standards for adoption.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “New York State’s unwavering commitment to addressing emerging contaminants in drinking water is a cornerstone of protecting public health now and into the future. These new standards are some of the lowest and precedent-setting nationwide and were carefully considered over months of scientific review with stakeholder input to ensure successful implementation.”

The Nation’s Most Protective MCLs for PFOA/PFOS Accepted 

At 10 ppt for PFOA and 10 ppt for PFOS, the MCLs are among the most protective levels in the nation. PFOA is a chemical that has previously been used to make non-stick, stain resistant, and water repellant products. PFOS has been used in aqueous film forming fire-fighting foam. New York State has invested millions through the State Superfund Program to install granular activated carbon filtration systems that are successfully removing PFOA and PFOS from impacted water supplies in several communities. Ultimately, the State is holding the potential polluters accountable for cleanup expenses incurred at state and local levels.

First in the Nation MCL for 1,4-Dioxane adopted 

New York is the first state in the nation to adopt an MCL for 1,4-Dioxane and has set that standard at 1.0 ppb. 1,4-Dioxane is a chemical that has been used as a stabilizer in solvents, paint strippers, greases, and wax. The State approved an effective new treatment technology for 1,4-Dioxane called Advanced Oxidative Process, which was first approved to treat a well in the Suffolk County Water Authority on Long Island in 2018.

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