The following letter to the editor was published in the Times Union on August 19, 2021 and was written by Alex Malanoski, Communications intern at EANY.
As our youngest New Yorkers head back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic, filling up their water bottles should be the least of their worries.
It startled me reading the response from the state Department of Health about the PFOA levels found at Algonquin Middle School that exceeded the 10 parts per trillion standard (“PFOA levels prompt testing,” Aug. 3). According to Bob Brunet, Poestenkill’s water manager, health officials informed him that the water is not necessarily unsafe and remains “acceptable for all uses,” despite levels of 12 parts per trillion.
As a Capital Region native, I find this trivialization of a serious issue appalling. Millions of New Yorkers served by both community and nonresidential water systems have never had their water tested for dozens of toxic chemicals.
These troubling PFOA levels were only found back in January following extensive testing. While the middle school immediately stopped using the water, the damage had already been done. Shutting down a few water fountains cannot erase years of “forever chemicals” contaminating the bloodstreams of these children, which could increase their risk of serious illness later in life.
No New Yorker is safe until every water utility is required to test for — at the minimum — a list of 40 emerging contaminants provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill mandating this action, A126A/S1759A, sponsored by Sen. James Skoufis and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, passed both houses and awaits the governor’s signature. All New Yorkers have the right to know what’s in their water.
Communications intern, Environmental Advocates NY