Read the full article by Abraham Kenmore

“Politico reported Monday that the federal Environmental Protection Agency is likely not going to set maximum legal limits on the amount of two toxic chemicals — perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

In the absence of federal guidance, the State Department of Health is establishing its own guidelines.

‘It’s disappointing because states have been working to set their own levels,’ said Brad J. Hutton, the deputy commissioner of the New York State Public Health Office. ‘It would be much more preferable to have a national maximum level that was legally enforceable.’

The chemicals have been found in groundwater near industrial sites, military bases and airports. When ingested, they have been linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pre-eclampsia, thyroid disease, developmental defects in fetuses, liver tissue damage and immune system impairments.

In December, the state Drinking Water Quality Council put forward its recommendations of no more than 10 parts per trillion in drinking water for both PFOS and PFOA. Now the Department of Health is moving forward with these recommendations to establish its own legally enforceable limit.

‘We received the recommendations of the (Drinking Water Quality) Council at the December meeting,’ said Mr. Hutton.

The Department of Health will create its own proposed guidelines, then submit the proposal for public review for 60 days before finally setting regulations. Asked about what the limit would be, Mr. Hutton said ‘you’ll have to wait to see the notice of proposed rule-making.’

The Drinking Water Quality Council recommendations are much lower than the current, non-binding recommendation from the EPA, which is 70 parts per trillion.

If implemented, ‘these would be the lowest levels in the nation,’ Mr. Hutton said.

Some advocates, however, want to see the state implement even more aggressive guidelines.

‘We are organizing for a maximum level of four parts per trillion,’ said Robert Hayes, clean water associate with Environmental Advocates of New York. ‘We really believe the Department of Health should go even further.’

The limit would include both PFOS and PFOA, which under the proposed state guidelines would be measured separately.

Both the state and the Environmental Advocates, however, say they are disappointed with the EPA failing to act.

‘New York has to step up both to hold polluters accountable as well as prevent water from being contaminated in the first place,’ Mr. Hayes said.

One major source of PFOS contamination, in particular, is airport fire-fighting foam, which can leak into ground water during training exercises and has been a particular issue around military airbases.

‘My colleagues at the New York (Department of Environmental Conservation) are working with the Department of Defense to do some clean-ups,’ Mr. Hutton said.

The new state guidelines will require any public water system to test for the contaminants, regardless of size. The clean-up process is fairly straightforward — PFOS and PFOA can be filtered with carbon filters — and there will be state funding to help municipalities with the costs…”