NYS Department of Health Delays Finalizing Drinking Water MCLs

For Immediate Release: June 2, 2020

NYS Department of Health Delays Finalizing Drinking Water MCLs

Albany – On Monday, the New York State Department of Health announced that they would not hold the scheduled June 4 meeting of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC), at which they planned to finalize the proposed Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane in drinking water. The Department did not announce when a rescheduled meeting will be held and had previously postponed the April meeting of the PHHPC due to COVID-19.

The announcement is the latest delay in a years-long effort to protect New Yorkers’ drinking water from these toxic chemicals. The PFOA contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls first came to light in 2015. Three years later, in December 2018, the New York Drinking Water Quality Council recommended Maximum Contaminant Levels for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane. The Department of Health’s current rule making process to establish these MCLs has been open since July 2019.

The State of New Jersey also announced on Monday that their MCLs for PFOA and PFOS are now in effect. Water systems in New Jersey are now required to test drinking water sources for these chemicals and remediate elevated levels where they are detected.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has linked PFOA and PFOS exposure to decreased antibody response to vaccines, liver damage, thyroid disease, and preeclampsia. ATSDR also linked PFOA exposure to increased risk of asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established that 1,4-dioxane is likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Maureen Cunningham, Senior Director for Clean Water said, “We are disappointed that the Department of Health has delayed finalizing New York’s drinking water standards for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane. It is especially disappointing to hear of this delay on the very same day that New Jersey put in place their safeguards against PFOA and PFOS. New Yorkers need clean water to stay safe and healthy just as much as our neighbors. Given the known risks that PFOA and PFOS pose to the immune system, we urge the Department of Health to move forward without delay to require testing and cleanup of these toxic chemicals in drinking water.”