New York State Adopts Drinking Water Standards for Three Toxic Chemicals

New York State Adopts Drinking Water Standards for Three Toxic Chemicals

New York State drives the charge for specific drinking water standards for three toxic chemicals, namely 1,4-dioxane, PFOS, and PFOA. 

The state of New York adopted drinking water standards this year for three toxic chemicals. New York adopted a drinking water standard for 1,4-Dioxane, setting the maximum contaminant level of 1 part for every billion for 1,4-Dioxane. The standard is the first of its sort in the U.S. New York additionally adopted maximum contaminant levels for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the state's drinking water at ten parts for each trillion. It is among the least levels in the U.S. for the two contaminants. Under the new guidelines, New York requires testing and monitoring for public water systems.

In a statement, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated, "While the federal government continues to leave emerging contaminants like 1,4-Dioxane, PFOA and PFOS unregulated, New York is leading the way by setting new national standards that help ensure drinking water quality and safeguard New Yorker's health from these chemicals.” He added that the environmental movement was established in this great state. They will keep on pushing ahead to protect their most valuable resources for a long time into the future.

The New York Policy Director at Natural Resources Defense Council, Rich Schrader, indicated that these drinking water standards are among the hardest in the country and an essential move in the battle to protect New Yorkers against this health crisis.

New York’s Drinking Water Program: Facts and Figures

Almost 95 percent of all New Yorkers get water from public water supply systems in New York State. Public water systems in New York extend from New York City, the biggest engineered water system in the country serving in excess of 9 million individuals, to privately-owned water source companies serving municipalities, to schools with their water supply, to small businesses in rural regions serving consumers water from their wells. Altogether, there are more than 9,000 public water systems in New York State. 

The number of systems by system type and the population served by each water system is indicated in the table below. The reported value for the total population of more than 21 million served by these systems depends on tallies that incorporate trades of water between systems bringing about checking a similar population on numerous occasions. The overall population figure likewise incorporates customers getting water from transient non-community systems. Other tallies of similar populations and consumers bring about a total value than the state's population.

Public Water Systems by System Type

Public Water System Type

Number of Systems

Population Served




Transient non-community



non-transient non-community






The number of systems by type of water source and the population served by these systems are given below. Most of the State's population is served by surface water. The metropolitan area of New York City and Long Island leads to individuals getting public water in the State. Nine million individuals served by the New York City water system get surface water. Most groundwater supplies are concentrated around Nassau and Suffolk Counties, together representing almost 3 million consumers. The rest of the population getting public water is mainly concentrated in cities, towns, and related suburban zones where public infrastructure has been created all through the state. A few systems are served by sources named groundwater under the immediate impact of surface water or GUDI. GUDI sources require a similar degree of treatment as surface water sources.

Public Water Systems by Source Type

Primary Source Type

Number of Systems

Population Served

Surface Water



Ground Water



Purchased Surface Water



Purchased Ground Water






Health Risks of 1,4-dioxane, PFOS, and PFOA

New York State Adopts Drinking Water Standards for Three Toxic Chemicals

1,4-dioxane is in products that make bubbles like shampoo, liquid soap, bubble baths. It infiltrates the skin and is viewed as a likely human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The National Toxicology Program records it as an animal carcinogen. California's Proposition 65 list of chemicals known or suspected to cause disease or birth defects included it. It isn't recorded on ingredient labels because 1,4-dioxane is made. When basic ingredients like sodium Laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, xynol, ceteareth, and oleth react when mixed.

EWG considers that 1,4-dioxane is in around 22 percent of more than 25,000 cosmetic products recorded in its database. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't need the listing of 1,4-dioxane on product labels implies it's impossible to know whether a product contains, which makes it hard for customers to keep away from it. One approach to avoid 1,4-dioxane in cosmetic products is to be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program. Research done by the Organic Consumers Association found that it doesn't exist in cosmetic products certified by the USDA National Organic Program. A study by EWG found that water supplies for more than 7 million individuals in 27 states have 1,4-dioxane contamination.

PFOS and PFOA are among the group of chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). They are used to make fluoropolymer coatings and fight heat, grease, stains, oil, and water. PFOS and PFOA don't separate in nature, and they can travel through soils, pollute drinking water sources, and develop fish and wildlife. They are found in soil, air, and groundwater over the U.S. Tests charged by EWG discovered PFAS in drinking water in many U.S. cities. Researchers tested water tests from 44 areas in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Just one example had no detectable PFAS, while two different areas had PFAS underneath the level that separate investigations show are a danger to individuals. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers estimated at any rate 12 PFAS in the blood serum of participants 12 years and more. They discovered four PFAS, including PFOS and PFOA, in the serum of practically the entirety of the individuals tested. That is an issue since research recommends that significant levels of PFAS may cause expanded cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, and a greater risk of kidney or testicular cancer.

States Take Measure

Almost 50% of all states are attempting to compose their direction, regulations, or legislation to address drinking water contamination from PFAS instead of an absence of enforceable government principles. 

Michigan in July passed a law setting the country's strictest level for PFOA at eight parts for every trillion. The legislation sets the PFOS level at 16 parts for each trillion. 

The government has set a lifetime health advisory level for the two chemicals at 70 parts for each trillion. 

The 3M Co. and DuPont were the first organizations creating and developing PFAS, dating to the 1940s. Chemical substances made with the specific PFAS that 3M, DuPont, and Chemours, a Dupont side project, have been used by many companies like Wolverine World Wide, Inc. also, W. L. Gore and Associates, Inc. makes many products, including semiconductors, sticky notes, shoes, and firefighting foam. 

However, a portion of the chemicals don't separate effectively and stay in the environment and human bodies for quite a while, winning them the name "forever chemicals.” They have been connected to specific cancers, hormone disruption, and other ailments, as indicated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The state health department has worked with other state offices to help examine, remediate, and fund water systems that test over the limits, fully expecting the adopted levels. 

The state in 2018 declared $200 million in grants to assist communities with tending to PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane in drinking water supplies, as per the health department. The grants help limit the economic effect of remediation on ratepayers.

Too Much, or Not Much Enough?

New York State Adopts Drinking Water Standards for Three Toxic Chemicals

An industry group called the American Chemistry Council said New York's new limit points are a lot stricter than expected to protect individuals. 

The council stated that the EPA built up a health advisory level of 70 parts for every trillion for PFOA and PFAS, "well over" the new state limit, and said the animal liver impacts that are the reason for the PFOA limit in New York "don't seem pertinent to human exposure." 

As far as possible, 1,4-dioxane is 50 times lower than the suggestion given by Health Canada and the World Health Organization, as indicated by the council.

As per the statement by the council, they will keep on working on behalf of their members to support policies that are protective of the public well-being and dependent on the best accessible science.

Environmental supporters commended the long-anticipated action, yet some said the state ought to have gone further. 

Rob Hayes, the clean water associate at Environmental Advocates NY, said in a statement, “These new drinking water protections are the direct result of tireless advocacy by community members who have these chemicals in their blood.” He added the science is precise: to protect people from cancer and other health risks, New York must eliminate all PFAS from drinking water.

The Natural Resources Defense Council likewise called for additional action, referring to many poisonous "forever" chemicals as presenting dangers to public health. It would also be beneficial to encourage the general public to use a water filter such as Berkey Water Filter

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