New York's plan to test for toxic chemicals in drinking water
ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)--Some environmental advocates continue to push for greater public awareness around toxic contaminants in public drinking water such as PFAS also known as "forever chemicals."
These chemicals are used in non-stick cookware fire suppression foam and are linked to a number of potential health effects including kidney and testicular cancer, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“These chemicals are incredibly persistent in the environment; they build up in the human body and they’ve been linked to a lot of harmful health effects like thyroid disease and kidney and testicular cancer. Really, PFAS pose one of the greatest threats to drinking water today,” said Rob Hayes, Director of Clean Water, Environmental Advocates NY.
The New York State Department of Health currently regulates these types of chemicals including emerging contaminants.
In a recent New York State Drinking Water Quality Council meeting, the council recommended the Department of Health add notification levels for 23 types of PFAS chemicals--which would require water utilities in the state to test for these chemicals and alert the public of harmful levels.
“So potentially millions of New Yorkers could get a letter in the mail telling them what contaminants are coming out of their tap,” Hayes said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health stated in an email to Erie News Now the proposed notification approach would further ensure a comprehensive process.
Hayes said an individual can install a water filtration system at home to further combat PFAS chemical levels but it can cost thousands of dollars.
“The onus shouldn’t be on New Yorkers to have to take steps on their own to try and protect their drinking water,” he said.