Drinking Water Quality Council Recommends Nation’s Most Protective Maximum Contaminant Levels for Three Unregulated Contaminants in Drinking Water. New York State Health Commissioner to Consider Council Recommendations and to Commence a Rule Making Process That Includes 60-Day Public Comment Period.
ALBANY, N.Y. – (December 18, 2018) – The New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation today announced that the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council has recommended that the Department of Health adopt the nation’s most protective maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS, as well as the nation’s first MCL for 1,4-dioxane. Specifically, the Council recommended MCLs of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA, 10 ppt for PFOS, and an MCL of 1 part per billion (ppb) for 1,4-dioxane. All three contaminants have been detected in drinking water systems across the country, yet remain unregulated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for setting regulatory limits under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
In the absence of federal leadership, the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council was enacted as part of the FY2018 Budget to identify strategies to protect the quality of New York’s drinking water. The 12-member Council is chaired by New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and includes State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and 10 other individuals appointed for their expertise in water system operations, risk assessment, toxicology, microbiology, and environmental engineering. The Council was formed to address emerging drinking water contaminants, and initially tasked with recommending MCLs for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane to the Commissioner of Health. An MCL is the maximum level of a contaminant allowed in public drinking water, which, once established, creates a legally enforceable standard that requires water systems to monitor, report findings and keep the contaminant below the level set.Exceedances must be reported to the public and require mitigation once enacted.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “After careful consideration and collaboration with drinking water quality experts and water system operators, this Council has recommended the nation’s most protective maximum contaminant levels for unregulated contaminants in drinking water. I thank the council membership for their recommendation and hard work in reaching this conclusion. The Council’s actions further demonstrate the importance of protecting the health and wellbeing of its citizens and I will take their recommendation under close advisement.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Today, Governor Cuomo’s Drinking Water Quality Council has recommended the most protective MCLs for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane in the nation. I commend my colleagues on the council for their essential leadership on this issue, particularly in light of the continued lack of leadership at the federal level. I look forward to working with our state agency partners at the Department of Health on the regulatory work ahead of us and our continued work to ensure all New Yorkers have access to clean water.”
Council Recommends Nation’s Most Protective MCLs for PFOA/PFOS
The Drinking Water Quality Council recommended that the Department of Health adopt an MCL of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 10 ppt for PFOS. These levels, which would be the lowest in the nation, take into consideration the national adult population’s “body burden,” or the fact that all adults already have some level of exposure to these and other related chemicals.PFOA is a chemical that has been used to make non-stick, stain resistant, and water repellant products and PFOS is a chemical that has been used in fire-fighting foam. The State has invested millions through the State Superfund program to install granular activated carbon filtration (GACs) systems that are successfully removing PFOA and PFOS from impacted water supplies. Ultimately, as with any environmental remediation, the State is holding the responsible polluters accountable for expenses incurred at state and local levels.
Council Recommends First in the Nation MCL for 1,4-dioxane
The Drinking Water Quality Council recommended that the Department of Health adopt a first in the nation MCL of 1.0 part per billion (ppb) for 1,4-dioxane. 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 (AOP), which is already being utilized by the Suffolk County Water Authority on Long Island.
Regulatory Process, Public Comment and MCL Adoption
The Drinking Water Quality Council recommendations will now be considered by the Commissioner of Health, who has authority to either accept the recommended MCLs or to proposealternate MCLs, through the notification of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the New York State Register. Publication will be followed by a 60-day public comment period. Following assessment ofpublic comments,the proposed regulation will either be revised orsubmitted for adoption bythe Public Health and Health Planning Council,subject tothe approval of theCommissioner of Health.The regulation would go into effect upon publication ofaNotice ofAdoption in the New York State Register.Once adopted, publicwater systems of all sizes would need to test their water within the specified timeframes in the regulations and comply with the adopted MCLs.