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Environmental advocates call for tighter restrictions on PFAS chemicals found in drinking water

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(WBNG) -- New York is potentially poised to take further steps to protect drinking water quality in the state.

The NYS Drinking Water Quality Council, an advisory board, recommended earlier this week the state Department of Health should designate seven types of PFAS as 'emerging contaminants'; PFAS are potentially hazardous chemicals that have been linked to cancer, kidney disease and birth defects.

If the Department of Health follows through with the council's recommendation, water utilities statewide will be required to test for these specific chemicals (PFNA, PFHpA, PFHxS, PFHxA, PFPeA, PFBA, and PFBS). They will also be required to notify the public when elevated levels of these chemicals are detected.

The environmental advocacy group Environmental Advocates NY told 12 News Friday there are more than 5000 different PFAS, and while the group appreciates something being done, the advocates believe this measure doesn't go far enough.

"There are many other PFAS chemicals that might be showing up in drinking water; in fact, there are 29 PFAS chemicals we can currently detect using available testing methods so we need to be testing for these other PFAS as well," said Rob Hayes, the group's director of clean water. "We need to tell the public if they're showing up in drinking water."

Hayes said these utilities already test for two common PFAS, PFOS and PFOAS, and it wouldn't be very expensive to expand the list of chemicals tested for.

He said the group supports a bill that has already passed New York's state senate and assembly, A.126-A/S.1759-A. The bill would require the state to test for not only the 29 PFAS currently possible but also an additional 11 chemicals deemed potentially hazardous to human health.

Hayes said he hopes Governor Kathy Hochul (D) will sign the bill, which he notes passed both chambers with broad bipartisan support.

Josh Rosenblatt

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