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What has happened?

For years, states and water providers have followed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. Multiple laboratory tests confirm that SUEZ has been well below the federal limit for these substances in its New York water systems.

While concentrations of PFOA and PFOS in our New York water supply have not changed, in late August 2020, the State of New York set a new standard of 10 ppt for these substances in drinking water.

In accordance with the new requirements, SUEZ took additional samples from its reservoir and well water sources in October. Several sites tested below both the federal health limit of 70 ppt and the new state standard of 10 ppt. Assuming that these levels remain under the state standard, these sites will require no additional treatment.

Those sites that tested above the new state standard remain well below the federal level of 70 ppt, but will require treatment to meet the new requirements.

SUEZ is working closely with New York State Department of Health and health department officials in Rockland, Putnam and Tioga counties to achieve compliance by installing advanced treatment.

In anticipation that the New York State Department of Health would set a new standard for PFOA and PFOS, as it has done in 2020, SUEZ engineers and water quality experts began designing treatment in 2019.

Our proactive approach has given us a full year of laboratory testing of our water supply. The time it will take to fully install treatment is expected to now take less than three years.

In addition, the New York State Department of Health set a new standard of 1 part per billion (ppb) for 1,4-dioxane. Tests indicate that SUEZ water systems in New York continue to be well below the new standard for 1,4-dioxane. No additional treatment is necessary.

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Is my water safe to drink?

Is my water safe to drink?

Is my water safe to drink?

There has been no change to the concentration of PFOA or PFOS in our New York water supply. PFOA and PFOS are chemical substances that have been used for decades to manufacture firefighting foam and many common household and consumer products the public uses frequently, including non-stick cookware, fast food packaging, stain-resistant products, photography chemicals, shampoo, pesticides, and paints.

However, the New York State Department of Health has recently set a new standard, also known as a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), of 10 ppt for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.

According to the Health Department, the MCL is set well below levels known or estimated to cause health effects and below the EPA’s Health Advisory Level of 70 ppt.

Consuming drinking water that is at or somewhat above the MCL does not pose a significant health risk. Your water continues to be acceptable for all uses.

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Need more information? Please contact our customer service center at
877-426-8969 or email us at sueznycustserv@suez.com

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How will SUEZ treat the water to ensure compliance

How will SUEZ treat the water to ensure compliance?

SUEZ will install Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), one of the most effective treatments for the removal of PFOA and PFOS from water.

GAC is made from raw organic materials (such as coconut shells or coal) that are high in carbon. Heat, in the absence of oxygen, is used to increase (or activate) the surface area of the carbon; this is why these filters are sometimes referred to as “charcoal” filters. Certain chemicals that are dissolved in water, including PFOA and PFOS, pass through a filter containing GAC and are trapped (or adsorbed).

GAC filters also can be used to remove chemicals that give objectionable odors or tastes to water such as hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs odor) or chlorine.

SUEZ is dedicated to providing customers with water that is safe. At SUEZ, we take great pride in our ability to provide you with drinking water that meets — and often surpasses — all the health and safety standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

Our annual Water Quality Report reflects the many tests that we perform on your drinking water and shows how it measured up to government standards during 2019. All the test results are on file with the NYSDOH, the agency that monitors and regulates drinking water quality in our state. Both the EPA and the NYSDOH require water suppliers to produce an Annual Water Quality Report for customers.

a SUEZ employee doing quality testing
diagram explaining how SUEZ will remove PFAS from drinking water
pfoa/pfos sources such as paint and fire extinguishers

How could I be exposed to PFOA and PFOS?

PFOA and PFOS are prevalent in our food, our air, our water and in products we use regularly. According to the EPA, most people have been exposed to PFOA and PFOS. We are exposed from indoor air and dust, and in some cases, from drinking water. Food, air, and water have become contaminated globally as a result of manufacturing releases and through the use of products that contain these substances.

  • Food: These substances can build up in crops, fish and livestock, ultimately contaminating the food we eat. In addition, when PFOA and PFOS are used in food packaging, such as sandwich wrappers and takeout containers, they migrate to our food.
  • Indoor air and dust: When PFOA and PFOS are used in products such as stain-proofing for furniture and carpets or waterproofing for clothing, these items become “PFOA and PFOS factories,” releasing the chemicals over time into air and dust.
  • Drinking water: In most areas, use of firefighting foam and manufacturing appear to be the pollution sources for drinking water, but these substances can find their way into drinking water systems when manufacturing by-products from household products that contain PFOA and PFOS are released. These substances are resilient and mobile and can also come from the air or migrate through soil.
  • Home and workplace products: PFOA and PFOS use in cleaners, personal care products and specialty products such as ski wax can lead to direct exposure from product use.
pfoa/pfos sources such as paint and fire extinguishers

Progress on Our Plan

SUEZ received a deferral from the New York State Department of Health on January 8, 2021 for the implementation of treatment for PFOA and PFOS in Rockland County, recognizing the design, testing, permitting, construction and other activities will take time to complete. As part of the deferral process, the company submitted a full action plan that will ensure that the water system will meet the new standard and will produce a quarterly report as a further requirement.

SUEZ also received a deferral from the New York State Department of Health January 7, 2021 for the implementation of treatment for PFOA and PFOS in Putnam County, also recognizing the design, testing, permitting, construction and other activities will take time to complete. Similarly, the company submitted a full action plan that will ensure that the water system will meet the new standard and will produce a quarterly report for its Putnam County water systems that require further treatment.

Please read our most recent reports on the matter below:

What’s Next for PFAS?

On June 29, 2021, SUEZ and the New York League of Conservation Voters co-hosted a virtual public forum titled, “What’s Next For PFAS,” that featured national, state and business leaders who discussed the latest in PFAS research and remediation efforts in drinking water. Julie Tighe, the President of the NYLCV, moderated the panel, which included:

  • Dr. Peter Grevatt, CEO, The Water Research Foundation
  • Tracy Mehan, Executive Director of Government Affairs, AWWA
  • Dan Shapley, Co-Director of Science-Patrol Program, Hudson Riverkeeper
  • Carol Walczyk, Vice President of Water Quality and Compliance, SUEZ

You can watch the forum by visiting here:

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Need more information? Please contact our customer service center at
877-426-8969 or email us at sueznycustserv@suez.com

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What should I do

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What should I do?

Consuming drinking water that is at or somewhat above the MCL does not pose a significant health risk. Your water continues to be acceptable for all uses.

You do not need to use an alternative (e.g., bottled) water supply for drinking, cooking or other consumption, or take any other action.

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Should I boil my water?

No. There is no need to boil your water. Boiling will not remove PFOA and PFOS if they are present in the water.

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Is it OK to shower or bathe?

Yes. You do not need to use an alternative water supply for showering or bathing.

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Can I do laundry or wash my dishes?

Yes. You do not need to use an alternative water supply for laundry or washing dishes.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

A health advisory limit is “an identifiable limit established to provide all Americans, even the most sensitive populations, a protective margin to a lifetime of exposure in drinking water.” In other words, health advisory limits are established based on exposure to substances for a lifetime and account for the most vulnerable individuals.

One part per trillion is the equivalent of one grain of sand in an Olympic-size swimming pool. The EPA’s lifetime health advisory sets a combined limit of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS.

As mentioned above, PFOA and PFOS are prevalent in our food, our air, our water and in products we use regularly. According to the EPA, most people have been exposed to PFOA and PFOS. To reduce your exposure it is recommended to avoid using common household products that contain these substances.

  • Avoid stain-resistant treatments.
  • Minimize use of packaged foods (examples include microwave popcorn bags and fast-food wrappers).
  • Avoid personal-care products made with or containing ingredients that include the words “fluoro” or “perfluoro.”
  • Avoid non-stick cookware.

According to the New York State Department of Health, the available information on the health effects associated with PFOA and PFOS, like many chemicals, comes from studies of high-level exposure in animals or humans. Less is known about the chances of health effects occurring from lower levels of exposure, such as those that might occur in drinking water. As a result, finding lower levels of chemicals in drinking water prompts water suppliers and regulators to take precautions that include notifying consumers and steps to reduce exposure.

PFOA and PFOS have caused a wide range of health effects when studied in animals that were exposed to high levels. Additional studies of high-level exposures to PFOA and PFOS provide evidence that some of the health effects seen in animals may also occur in humans. The most consistent findings in animals were adverse effects on the liver and immune system and impaired fetal growth and development. The United States Environmental Protection Agency found that there is suggestive evidence that PFOA and PFOS cause cancer based on studies of animals exposed to high levels of these chemicals over their entire lifetimes.

PFOA and PFOS are pervasive and come from a wide range of sources. They can be found in drinking water supplies as a result of industrial releases or use of firefighting foam, but are also used in a wide range of products, from food packaging to stain-resistant furniture to cosmetics. Our exposure comes from multiple sources and routes.

These chemicals can enter the environment directly from landfills where products such as carpets and textiles break down and leach into the air, soil and water. PFOA and PFOS have also been found in a number of plants and animals. With their resiliency and mobility—they are not known to break down in the environment and they move through soil to drinking water.

SUEZ is continuing to investigate the sources of PFOA and PFOS in its water systems.

While bottled water is often thought of as a safe alternative when tap water is found to contain contaminants like arsenic and lead, it is often not tested for PFOA or PFOS. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) now requires its member companies to test for these substances, but the IBWA doesn’t represent all bottled-water manufacturers.

A new study by scientists at Duke University and North Carolina State University finds that – while using any filter is better than using none – many household filters are only partially effective at removing these substances from drinking water.

For more information on federal health limits and the new New York standard:
EPA
Health.NY.gov

For information on the source of PFOA and PFOS and potential health effects:
EPA
CDC

Customers who may have further concerns about unregulated contaminants may choose to use a NSF-certified filter for drinking water in their homes.

More information is available here.