According to the EPA’s new set of regulations, the water tested for PFOA and PFOS in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Newburgh is contaminated at dangerous levels, requiring immediate remediation. The EPA released a new standard of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for an acceptable lifetime exposure to Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS). Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Newburgh have had tests showing levels of PFOA in the town’s water supply are significantly higher than this new standard.
In Hoosick Falls, tests have shown water with more than 600 ppt of PFOA, substantially higher than the maximum EPA level. The limit applies to both long- and short-term exposure and is substantially lower than the current advisory of 100 ppt. This means thousands of people in Hoosick Falls have been exposed for an extended period of time. PFOS have been also been found in excess throughout Newburgh and Petersburgh. In addition to the town water supply, hundreds of privately owned wells have tested for levels significantly above the newly established EPA limits.
PFOA is a substance commonly found in “non- stick” products such as carpeting, clothing, furniture food packaging. Most people are exposed to minimal and non-dangerous levels of PFOA through these common household goods. In some communities these chemicals contaminate the water supply increasing the population’s exposure. Numerous studies link exposure to serious health conditions such as cancer, high cholesterol, increased liver enzymes, decreased vaccination response, thyroid disorder and pregnancy- induced hypertension.
While the connection between PFOA and its negative effects on health have been well documented, the new EPA standards are Advisory and therefore enacting regulations against to keep higher levels of PFOA out of our water supply are left up to state governments. New Jersey has already put in place a limit of 40 ppt on water and we urge the Governor Cuomo and the state legislature to put in place similar regulations to ensure the health and safety of the residents in upstate New York.
According to this standard, six water districts in upstate New York now have dangerously high levels of PFOA contamination in their water in addition to numerous privately owned wells. This has added anxiety to local populations about their drinking water, as well as a growing skepticism about the Cuomo Administrations ability to make effective changes. The New York League of Conservation voters is deeply concerned by the abundance of PFOA in the drinking water of postindustrial towns and we ask all members to urge their legislators to demand Albany take action in preventing the spread of this toxic chemical.